The Museum Store Association is leveraging its trusted relationship within the nonprofit retail industry to gather industry experts to lead a variety of unique sessions designed to educate attendees on the best practices and most innovative new ideas for store promotions, marketing, sales, and more! These sessions will be led by the most forward-thinking leaders in the nonprofit retail industry, and will follow the MSA Knowledge Standards that highlight the core knowledge, skills and abilities needed to excel at the daily responsibilities of a nonprofit retail professional.

Take a look at these breakout sessions and see how they will help you improve your store or business. Sessions and speakers are continuously being added to this page as they are confirmed, so check back periodically for the most up-to-date list of speakers.

Saturday, March 30th

9:15 am – 10:15 am

Leveraging Innovative Resources for Visual Merchandising and Custom Product Development

By leveraging the power, speed, and low minimum investment of new technologies, services, and vendor marketplaces, MSA members can effectively compete against traditional retail stores. Using the resources and techniques learned in this session, attendees will offer truly unique products that will enhance and extend the visitor experience well beyond the initial trip to the museum.

Objective: Learn about the innovative resources for creating custom products for your store of special exhibit

MSA Knowledge Standards: Merchandise Planning

Speakers:

Jay Thomson

Jay Thomson

Assistant Manager, The Barnes Shop at the Barnes Foundation
Fair Trade – Setting a Legitimate Ethical Standard

A clearer picture of fair trade principles, code of practice, and issues in the fair trade movement, all with an emphasis on how attendees can participate or adapt their work to align with fair trade values

Objective: Learn all about fair trade, especially how you can participate and align your business with fair trade standards, principles, and values.

MSA Knowledge Standards: Business Relations

Speakers:

Christopher Solt

Christopher Solt

Executive Director, Fair Trade Federation
Championing Accessibility & Inclusivity for Commercial Excellence

There are clearly legal requirements regarding accessibility in public places, but organisations can be too quick to categorise service provision for disabled people as just a business obligation rather than an opportunity; many improvements actually then go on to provide an inclusive service for all, increasing footfall and sales. The consequence of failing to investigate accessibility and inclusivity can be a greatly missed opportunity. The Deep in Hull would like to share how it has strategically managed accessibility resulting in good practice, experiences and practical examples, growing staff confidence, engagement and job satisfaction, excellence in service delivery standards/customer feedback and commercial expansion through audience reach and new markets.

Objective: 

  1. Realizing the commercial potential of the ‘Purple Pound’ (potential accessible tourism/leisure market) for your business through expanded audience reach and new markets.
  2. Examples of how you might wish to improve service excellence and customer feedback, through improving accessibility and inclusivity.
  3. Increase employee engagement, job satisfaction and staff confidence as a result of improving access.
  4. Practical tips for assessing current levels of accessibility, communicating this and planning further achievable actions.

MSA Knowledge Standards: Customer Relations, Operations, Strategic Management

Speakers:

Louise Kirby

Louise Kirby

Director of Operations & People, The Deep

Saturday, March 30th

10:45 am – 11:45 am

Embracing Our Differences: Providing Personalized Service

We’ve all heard the golden rule; treat everyone as you would like to be treated. This session flips that a bit and focuses on training our staff to treat visitors as THEY would like to be treated. This includes welcoming the LGBTQ community, overcoming language barriers, welcoming visitors with disabilities and looking at our own businesses’ unique visitor types based on socio economic and psychographic differences as well as preferences on staff interaction and level of museum experience. By varying our approach to each customer, we can facilitate the best possible experiences and in return, the best business.

Objective: You will have training tools to take back to your team and tools to begin to evaluate your own visitor types

MSA Knowledge Standards: Customer Relations

Speakers:

Colleen Higginbotham

Colleen Higginbotham

Director of Visitor Services, Chrysler Museum of Art
Balancing Commemoration and Commercialization: Interpreting Death in Museum Stores

After decades of being underutilized by museum administrators, museum stores are increasingly being revitalized as extensions of their institution. This trend, while all around beneficial for most institutions, provokes a pre- existing tension spaces that interpret death operate under; the need to balance commemoration and commercialization. This presentation will use real world examples to illustrate how store design and inventory can impact a visitor’s experience at these spaces. It will also offer attendees some strategies to better balance commemoration and commercialization in their spaces.

Objective: Attendees will learn how products and store environment at spaces that interpret and commemorate the dead can impact the institutions perception among visitors and influence how they remember the dead.

MSA Knowledge Standards: Customer Relations, Merchandise Planning

Speakers:

Vincent Jacot

Vincent Jacot

Founder, Historiart
On-Target: Take the Guesswork Out of Exhibition Catalogue Sales

Exhibition catalogues occupy a singular position of importance in museum retail, providing the greatest opportunity for revenue while also directly fulfilling the educational mission of our institutions. Catalogues also pose the greatest challenge, requiring a high level of strategic planning to maximize the highly profitable, but short-lived opportunities presented by special exhibitions while minimizing inventory investment and leftovers. A panel of museum store book buyers will discuss these issues and help equip attendees with the necessary tools to confidently develop their own effective sales and management strategies.

Objectives: 

  • How to strategically plan for buying exhibition catalogues
  • How to work with Curators/Publications to recommend cover design, price, and format
  • How to project purchase quantities, estimate visitor pick-up, and assess catalogues in relation to overall exhibition merchandise sales
  • How to maximize sales through product placement, signage, and selling tips
  • How to determine expected sell-through, minimize inventory and devise exit strategies
  • How to report sales and level of success to senior management

MSA Knowledge Standards: Merchandise Planning, Strategic Management

Speakers:

Stuart Hata

Stuart Hata

Director of Retail Operations, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
 Don Henderson

Don Henderson

Senior Buyer, National Gallery of Art
Marie du Vaure

Marie du Vaure

Book Buyer, J. Paul Getty Museum
Tim Niedert

Tim Niedert

Book & Media Manager, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Kieran Whitworth

Kieran Whitworth

Manager of Book Buying, Imperial War Museums, UK
Avoiding Being Outsourced

Over the last twenty years many of our stores have been outsourced to corporate concessionaires.  Often when this happens, we and our staff lose our jobs and are replaced by the corporation’s own employees.  Though it’s often not your decision, we will discuss strategies can you take to keep this from happening.  We will discuss why it better for an institution to keep retail operations in-house and how you can communicate this to your executive management and board.  

Objective:  Come away with strategies to keep your store from being outsourced and key talking points to emphasize the value of in-house retail operations to internal and external stakeholders.

MSA Knowledge Standards: Business Relations

Speakers:

Ross Beardsley

Ross Beardsley

Director of Retail Operations, Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
Storytelling – Creating Meaningful Customer Engagement

We all know the value of customer engagement — but how do we develop meaningful and on-going customer engagement that adds value to our store or our brand?

We tell the story — of the museum, of the store, of the brands we stock.

How we do this can vary, but partnership is key. Vendors that can support their buyers with a strong story, well told and with supporting images and video are ideal. 

Technology and social media open up all sorts of opportunities to spread the story further and encourage meaningful engagement.

Speakers:

  • TBD

Objective: Buyers and vendors can work together to hone your stories to benefit both!

MSA Knowledge Standards: Communications, Customer Relations, Merchandise Planning

Sunday, March 31st

4:45 pm – 5:45 pm

Mentorship – Find, Ask, Grow

This session is about how to identify and ask someone to be your mentor. You’ll also learn how to lay the groundwork and how to assess and achieve goals set up by the mentorship. This session may also be a starting point for people who want to mentor those in the early stages of their careers.

Objective: A base to ask and initiate a mentorship in our industry

MSA Knowledge Standards: Business Relations

Speakers:

Kelli Davis

Kelli Davis

Store Manager, Science Center of Iowa
Barbara Lenhardt

Barbara Lenhardt

General Manager/Deputy Chief of Retail, NGA
Patricia Sampson

Patricia Sampson

Manager of Retail Shops & Visual Merchandising, High Museum of Art
Andrew Uchin

Andrew Uchin

Head of Retail, Norton Simon Museum
Phil Zuckerman

Phil Zuckerman

President, Applewood Books
Mapping a Merchandise Plan

Organize and streamline your buying trips by creating a visual thematic, functional full representation of your product mission statement. Communicate to your organization the logic, reasoning, art and science behind buying decisions and budgets. Engage and empower your team to communicate the value and benefits of shopping at a specialized museum store. Utilize visual tools to create staff training workshops, enabling team members to use appropriate design language to enhance their guest conversations.

Objective: Create a visual road map for your strategic merchandise plan, for the purpose of evaluating products, communicating to your organization, and enlightening your staff.

MSA Knowledge Standards: Merchandise Planning

Speakers:

Jan Banister

Jan Banister

Guest Services Manager, Columbus Indiana Visitors Center

Creating an Experience for Your Customer

Buying is typically a matter of walking through a store, looking at merchandise and, if all goes well, buying something. But entering a museum gift store should be as engaging and, even, riveting, as the exhibits. Even more, it will drive them to the website and other follow-on purchases. To achieve this entails low-to-no cost strategies outlined in the session from telling product stories to creating a visceral, hands-on display. These ideas are based on research indicating why people buy, what input triggers specific responses and more… All while upholding the professionalism of a museum environment.

Objective: The attendee will learn to take concrete steps for reaching customers in new and exciting ways on emotional, visceral, and intellectual levels; to think creatively when establishing a “feeling” in the gift shop; and to utilize the most recent communications findings so every interaction with shopkeepers even momentary inspires trust and interest.

MSA Knowledge Standards: Communications, Customer Relations, Merchandise Planning

Speakers:

Susan Benjamin

Susan Benjamin

Founder of True Treats Historic Candy, Former Communications Strategist, Author of 10 Books

Monday, April 1st

10:30 am – 11:30 am

How to Meet the Challenges of a Part Time Sales Staff

Learn how to create objectives and then identify and train your staff to meet and exceed those objectives.

Objective: Learn to manage a part time staff, develop them into an effective team, and set achievable objectives

MSA Knowledge Standards: Communications, Customer Relations, Financial Management, Human Resources, Merchandise Planning, Strategic Management

Speakers:

Alice Woods

Alice Woods

Owner, ABW Designs
Laura Murphy

Laura Murphy

Manager/Buyer, The Preservation Society of Newport County
45 Terrific Retail Tips

A 45-minute presentation with one minute tips on all aspects of retail operations.

Objective: Learn rapid-fire one-minute tips and immediately start using them to improve your stores.

MSA Knowledge Standards: Communications, Customer Relations, Financial Management, Merchandise Planning, Operations

Speakers:

Cathy Nagle-Ervin

Cathy Nagle-Ervin

Regional Manager, Great Lakes, Eastern National
Advanced Financial Assessment II: Using the MSA Retail Industry Report to Advocate for Your Store and Your Career

This session is a follow-up to 2018’s ‘Advanced Financial Assessment’ now that MSA’s 2019 Retail Industry Report has been released to the public.  Learn how to utilize MSA’s Retail Industry Report to benchmark your store, ask for a raise, set goals, and improve your standing in your organization. Presenters from different museum types and sizes (Science, Art) demonstrate different practical, specific ways to unlock the RIR data and use it as a tool to negotiate with museum leadership, peers, and staff.

Objective: Empowerment to use the industry report to your advantage and advance your career

MSA Knowledge Standards: Financial Management, Human Resources, Strategic Management

Speakers:

Julie Steiner

Julie Steiner

Director of Retail Operations, The Barnes Foundation
Kelli Davis

Kelli Davis

Store Manager, Science Center of Iowa