Museum Store Sunday: A Message from the MSA Board of Directors

December 11, 2017

By Ione Saroyan and the 2017-18 MSA Board of Directors

Museum Store Sunday. It is a reality. We did it – we all did it. I’m just going to put that right there and invite you all to bask in it for a moment. We announced it in late April at the MSA Forward 2017 in Pittsburgh. And in less than seven months, it launched in a spectacular way. This bright, creative, diligent, resourceful community of Museum Store Association members and partners succeeded in launching a global initiative. We succeeded in putting a spotlight on Museum Stores right smack in the middle of the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Congratulations to all of us!

For me, Museum Store Sunday (MSS) existed on multiple plains. First and foremost, as one of the pillars of MSA’s strategic plan: advocacy. “To communicate to the world the value and importance of non-profit retail with its curated products and unique experiences.” Within my own institution, this was a struggle at times. For example, I had to persuade my museum’s brand guardians to allow my promotions to go forward without changing the color of the MSS brand. Second, as a volunteer on the MSS Outreach Committee – I wrote letters and made phone calls, and experienced the thrill of the success of my efforts each time the MSS store locator was updated. Finally, as a museum store retailer, I offered special discounts to museum members and the general public, a free gift with purchase, and raffled off prizes including a museum membership. I am delighted to say that we had a fantastic day, with a 212% increase over the previous Sunday, and a 334% increase over the Sunday of the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend. And it was so exciting to read and watch the great press that came in from all over!

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Building a Retail Team of Complementary Thinkers

January 23, 2017

By Susan DeLand

The customer’s experience is paramount in museum retail, which means putting together a team of employees that can ensure a positive outcome. There are many aspects to consider when forming a team—and one of them is the individual’s style of thinking.

So, how should strategic thinking play into your museum store’s team?

The strategic thinking mindset is a way of looking at your business for the long term. It’s getting your brain out of the weeds. Moving your business forward is both analytical and creative, and involves systems thinking, focusing on the big picture and identifying leverage.

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How National Customer Service Week Can Benefit Your Museum Store

November 7, 2016

By Bill Gessert

In 1984, the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) spearheaded the first National Customer Service Week (NCSW). Since then, during the first full week in October, businesses and organizations nationally and internationally use this week as an opportunity to do something special for their customer service staffs. (Think celebrations with fun and games, food and beverages, and employee recognition.)

But is fun and games what the founders of NCSW had in mind back in 1984? No, not really. The true spirit of the week goes beyond fun activities. Its real meaning is a much deeper, more important philosophy that can change the level of service in your museum store.

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Visitor Service Standards: Go for 100 Percent

October 31, 2016

By Kate Neumiller Schureman

It doesn’t take much time on TripAdvisor to find the following review, “Great museum, horrible customer service!” I would guess that many of you might be thinking to yourself, “I am sure that is not part of a review for my museum,” or maybe, “That’s not about our museum store.” Well, you are not alone. More than 80 percent of American businesses, including museum stores, think they provide “superior customer service.”

If that is truly the case, then how do we explain the $41 billion per year that American businesses lose due to poor customer service?

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Museum Stores Volunteers and Department of Labor

October 3, 2016

Do you have volunteers in your Museum Store? Recently, our Chief Operating Officer asked us to review our intern and volunteer program museum wide to ascertain if we were in alignment with the Department of Labor. Many of us were surprised to learn that we needed to update our programs. Volunteers and interns have long been the background of the museum world and it’s very important for all of us to be aware of the latest standards. According to the Department of Labor (DOL), interns and volunteers are not employees by definition of an employee/employer relationship.
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Updating Job Descriptions for your Store Employees

August 15, 2016

We all have job descriptions but how often do you update them? Last month I was tasked with updating the job deceptions for the Museum Shop employees. They have not officially been updated since 2011. A lot has changed in the Museum since 2011 and our staffing is much smaller while our rolls have expanded. With that in mind, I am fascinated by larger museums that have buyers for different categories of the store, multiple managers, warehouse people and merchandisers. We have two categories of employees, a Museum Shop Associate (basically the assistant manager) and Museum Shop Sales Assistants. Our job descriptions have four sections; the position purpose, responsibilities, qualifications and working conditions.
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Six Tips from the Best in the Business

May 2, 2016

Last week, the Business Journals interviewed 11 of the top small business owners and asked them for tips for success in running a successful company.

These business owners were honored as last year’s Small Business Persons of the Year in their respective areas.  While their businesses may differ from an operation like a nonprofit retail store, it is easy to apply much of their advice to all types of operations. Let’s see how we can adapt their ideas to boost your museum and institutional stores. Read more

Woman successful hiking climbing silhouette in mountains, motivation and inspiration in beautiful sunset and ocean. Female hiker with arms up outstretched on mountain top looking at beautiful night sunset inspirational landscape.

4 Ways to Define Personal Success

March 28, 2016

Are you successful? Hopefully, you’re running a successful operation and you come to work every day with a smile on your face. But defining true personal success is often difficult.

You could be running a massively successful operation, while your personal life is crumbling all around you. Or, just the opposite may be true. Your personal life may be nothing but endless joy, and at the same time, you can barely keep the front door of your store open.

Life, both professional and personal, seems to be an endless balancing act. You often feel like a juggler, trying to keep a dozen balls in the air. It might work for a while, but it doesn’t work all the time. Read more


The Pareto Principle and Your Store

March 21, 2016

Marketers have long relied on the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers.

The theory is tempered by the fact that museums rely less on a local customer base than conventional retail locations do; many of us draw a lot of revenue from tourists, including international or out-of-region visitors. Our biggest spenders may only be in town once. But even if the top-20 spending group doesn’t always comprise the same individuals, if you analyze visitorship and spending, you will find that customers in that 20% have a lot in common. Read more


The Hot Seat

February 29, 2016

For any potential employee, the hiring process can be long, slow, frustrating, and somewhat painful. On the other hand, the person doing the hiring needs to be methodical and strategic. Unfortunately, there’s no simple way of ensuring that the hiring process is both effective and fair – much less painless.

Over the years, I’ve been hired and have hired dozens of people and frankly, neither side of the process is particularly fun. I’m fairly certain that sometimes the person doing the hiring is more uncomfortable than the person hoping to be hired. The hot seat is often hot for both sides of the equation.

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