By IvyLee Rosario
The 2015 Museum Store Association 60th Retail Conference and Expo took place April 17-20 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. With 317 conference attendees and buyers and 217 expo participants, the conference continues to grow every year, bringing in participants from 42 states, the United Kingdom, Germany and Kuwait. With an array of visitors from all over the world, that is proof that the Museum Store Association renowned for its success. The conference and expo offered networking opportunities, growth in the museum industry, and important keynote sessions that helped spread knowledge about the museum store trade. Exhibitors covered categories from books, food, jewelry, and Made in America – all the way to Multimedia, Store Operations, Souvenirs and Toys.
Some sessions that made an impact among those in attendance included Kevin Mullaney with the Grayson Company, who talked about the four simple principles guaranteed to improve store sales; Paul Flickinger with Manask & Associates who spoke about the critical factors to successfully manage up; Andrew Andoniadis with Andoniadis Retail Services who presented a workshop on open-to-buy strategies; and the opening keynote, Roderick Buchanan, from the British Museum Company, who shared insights on the techniques he employed to grow profits four-fold since joining the company in 2008. In addition, there were lessons ranging from selling items on Amazon to visual merchandising and displaying product in your store to attract the most customers. No matter what you were looking to find at the conference and expo there was a vast amount to be learned.
Of the hundreds in attendance, the most popular museums represented were Art, History, Natural History, Maritime and Science museums. Amongst the others were also Botanical Gardens, Decorative Art, Military, Performing Arts, and Zoo and Aquarium.
The Hartford conference was successful for many reasons, from sold out attendance by exhibitors on the expo floor, many new vendor members, to the return of hundreds of MSA members and dozens of new ones. MSA is especially pleased with the high-caliber speakers and the content they delivered. All of the speakers, whether they discussed leadership, business planning, marketing or store design, drove home the message that this conference was all about the nonprofit retail profession and their engagement in it.
The conference ended with an inspiration keynote speech made by award-winning photographer Dick Durrance. “Visualize the opportunities that surround you, and then the actions that will transform your dreams into reality,” he said while displaying dozens of photos he had taken over the years, ranging from war, friends, mountains, family, skiing and the Olympics. For more information on the 2016 MSA Conference & Expo in Atlanta at the Westin Peachtree Plaza on April 15-18, visit www.museumstoreassociation.org to preregister.