How the Museum Store Association Launched a Successful Worldwide Retail Day

The Museum Store Association drove business and accomplished its advocacy goals through the launch of November’s Museum Store Sunday. Here’s how the association approached it.

There’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. But noticeably missing from that list is a branded Sunday event.

This year, the Museum Store Association jumped on that gap, debuting Museum Store Sunday on November 26. “Sunday was just there. It was just waiting for us,” said Susan Tudor, second vice president of the MSA Board of Directors.

At strategic planning meetings in the summer of 2016 and after feedback from members, MSA wanted to make advocacy one of its main priorities in 2017, specifically proclaiming the importance of nonprofit retail in museum stores. “Not everyone understands that money spent in a nonprofit museum, which most of them are, at museum stores—all of that profit goes back to the museum,” Tudor said.

Since Museum Store Sunday was not going to just be about driving business, but also making the connection in consumers’ minds that purchasing items in museum stores helps to support the museums themselves, MSA wanted to be careful about the retail day’s branding. Museum Store Sunday: Be a Patron was the messaging it launched with. “With every purchase in the museum store, they’re being a patron—whether it’s a $1 postcard or a $50 book or a $500 sculpture—they’re all supporting that museum and their mission, so that’s what ‘Be a Patron’ is about,” Tudor said.

The inaugural Museum Store Sunday was an overwhelming success, according to Tudor, who said that about 675 museums and 60 vendors participated in 10 countries, which spanned three continents. In the United States, all 50 states and the District of Columbia took part.

MSA gave its members branded templates for press releases and signs for their stores and ideas for how they could celebrate the day—from trunk shows to discounts and promotions—as well as a website and a webinar that provided more information. However, it was up to each individual museum store to decide how it wanted to participate.

Although MSA hasn’t yet received final results from a survey that it sent out to members, early reports from individual museums are good. “Many museums were enjoying triple digit increases from day-over-day,” Tudor said. “It was amazing. … Many were saying it was their best Sunday after Thanksgiving ever.”

But Tudor said that they’ve only “scratched the surface.” Looking forward to 2018, MSA is hoping to attract a major sponsor for Museum Store Sunday, and the association is hopeful that the retail day will continue to grow and grow.

She also noted that Museum Store Sunday helps underscore the importance of shopping in museum stores the rest of the year too. “This is one day, and it will be November 25, 2018, and every [subsequent] Sunday after Thanksgiving, but we also want to advertise [that people should] shop in museum stores 365 days a year.”

(Handout photo)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!