MSA Forward 2018: “Mastering Non-Profit Retail”

April 26-30, 2018, Washington, DC


Welcome to the first “COUNTDOWN TO CONFERENCE” blog where over the next few months leading up to MSA FORWARD 2018, we will be providing tips, tools, and insights in anticipation of our annual conference and celebration of non-profit retailing. The conference blog will alternate with MSA’s educational blog every Monday starting today through April.  To kick off our MSA FORWARD series, Past-President David Duddy of the de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA offers some valuable tips and tools to help you convince your institution to send you to MSA Forward 2018. Let your institution know that there is a terrific return on investment in your professional development when you attend MSA’s annual Retail Conference and Expo. Register today!

At a time when many travel and training budgets have been reduced or eliminated, we know you’ll need to justify the expense of attending MSA Forward 2018, our annual Conference & Expo.  We’ve put together some tools to help you make a convincing case as to why your organization should support your attendance in Washington.

The 63rd MSA Retail Conference & Expo will enable attendees to:

  • Find solutions to issues you currently have in your stores.
  • Visit an Expo with vendors who understand your visitors and your merchandising needs.msa_fwd_2018_dates_logo
  • Share best practices with others in the non-profit retail community.
  • Discover tools to survive and thrive in this changing economy and business environment.
  • Gain valuable information from leaders in our industry.

Ways to show value for your Conference & Expo attendance:

  • Focus on what you will specifically bring back to the organization as return for the investment. msa-supervisor-letter-2018
  • Use MSA’s Justification Worksheet msa-conference-value-2018 to outline the benefits you will receive and the money you will save as a result of attending.
  • Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation and Q&A to your colleagues upon your return to share what you learned. That way, others in your organization will get the benefits of your attendance, too.
  • Be ready with a plan that shows who will cover for you while you are attending the MSA Conference & Expo.

Tips on saving money at the Conference & Expo:

  • Share a room to reduce hotel expenses.
  • Never attended Conference before? Apply for a scholarship!
  • Utilize the 2018 Show Specials when placing orders with Expo vendors.
  • Book your hotel room early to be sure you reserve a room at the lowest rate.
  • Take advantage of the food provided during the conference through breakfasts, networking lunches and evening receptions.
  • Stay at the conference hotels, first at Marriott Wardman Park if you are attending the initial learning excursions, then moving to the Renaissance Downtown Washington, DC, where all Conference and Expo events will take place – saving costs and valuable time.








Seeking Your Unique Content for MSA Blogs!

June 5, 2017

By The MSA Membership Committee

MSA is always seeking relevant content for our weekly blog, and we hope you are interested in sharing your skills and experiences with the MSA community. All of the members of our community are trained professionals and experts in the field – and have interesting, personal, and relevant material to share with their peers. One of the defining characteristics of our Association is their unflagging willingness to assist each other — and a blog post offering info, suggestions, and practical steps is a way to spread that word across our community!

We also revamped the MSA blog to include a photo of the MSA blogger’s business and an image of the author to personalize the post. I hope you will all consider this as a way to shine at your own institutions and businesses; publishing your expertise in a blog for your association of 1,400+ members shows the knowledge and willingness to contribute that makes you an industry leader.

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At MSA, We’re Thankful for You!

November 21, 2016

By Jason Harbonic

Outside the MSA Headquarters in Philadelphia, the leaves are changing colors, rakes are at the ready and jackets are pulled a little tighter on everyone’s midday walks. But it’s not just another fall here in Philadelphia, it’s the holiday season.

With Thanksgiving only days away, it’s time to pause and reflect on what I’m thankful for. And I have much to be thankful for. It’s been an eventful year, one that culminated with my position as MSA’s new Executive Director, which began November 1.

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It IS About Profit

It is about making a profit and producing that ever-elusive, positive net income! Every retailer struggles with this every day—how to attain it and how to increase it. It takes a strong retail team to build the foundation and put all of the pieces together to get there.

Do you have the right fixtures and does the lighting create a tone and environment that attracts and guides customers? If lighting highlights the merchandise properly, there is an ambiance that enables purchase decisions. New lighting and/or lighting design can increase your sales significantly! Alice McAuliffe of the Walters Art Museum recently shared that her average transaction increased seven percent in one year after redesigning the lighting. That’s a number you can take to your finance department!

Is your staff trained to sell? Does your store have a customer service and sales program that lays out the key ways that staff can help reach your store’s goals? A well-trained staff can have a positive impact on the bottom line by as much as 123 percent.

Do you have a product development and marketing program that supports your institution’s mission and uses every opportunity to make a brand statement? If not, you are missing valuable opportunities to educate visitors about your museum and you are losing sales. Visitors want mementos to take home with them.

Does your store have an event schedule? Trunk shows, featured artists, CD/DVD/book signings and vendor talks are opportunities to increase revenue and net income, and there is no carrying cost to the inventory you will be moving—it’s sold before it’s even received!

In this issue of Museum Store magazine, you will find articles that support your quest to have an impact on your museum’s financial objectives. This edition was specially created to help you discover ways to increase profit. I guarantee that if you become engaged and involved, read and reread this magazine and take advantage of the opportunities MSA offers, you will increase revenue and ultimately net income for your institution!

Jama Rice

Associations are People

Did you know there’s an association for associations? I attended the 2014 American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) annual meeting in Nashville in August. Senior managers of associations gathered from all over the world to discuss trends that affect professional associations and trade organizations and were the topic of  conversations and sessions.

While many of these trends are positive – for example, the growth in collaborative efforts between associations in fulfilling their missions – of those still spent much time discussing the challenges membership associations face. Read more


Why I Invest

I invest time writing customer service and sales training programs. Why? Because the payoff is that my customers will be well serviced. I invest time in developing products that reflect the Kennedy Center. Why? Because those are the proprietary products that support our mission and can produce additional margins. I invest time in writing a business plan and a retail mission. Why? I need to constantly be thinking strategically about where we should be each year and planning for change instead of reacting to change. I invest time in myself by being an active and participating member of MSA. Why? Because any investment in me will ultimately benefit where I work.

MSA has provided a support network of colleagues. I know I can reach out to anyone at any time and receive an answer to my burning questions or help with a problem. Over the years I have used information I’ve gained through my MSA experience to build a case for supporting Made in the USA product and also to intelligently explain why I cannot always purchase every item in the USA. I have used MSA benchmarks to build a brand new museum store in two institutions. I have learned what UBIT is and through MSA colleagues was introduced to one of the best minds in the tax industry (IMHO) to help me create a solid plan.

I am very excited that MSA will be offering certification and certificate programs because these are additional investments that I can make in myself. I have been with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and now the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—and always an MSA member investing in myself. The Museum Store Association understands that the investment has always been in me. The association creates opportunities for professionals, whether they are online in the form of webinars or ShopTalk, or in person attending a chapter meeting or annual conference.

Reach out to your colleagues, join the conversation online, get involved, look into the new certificate program, invest in yourself. It might be the best investment you ever make!

By Barbara Lenhardt
President, MSA Board of Directors
Director of Operations, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Jama Rice

Are You Happy?

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, because I’m happy! If you’ve heard Happy by Pharrell Williams you know that it’s an upbeat, finger-snapping, move-your-feet song that makes the day seem better just by listening.

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