museums&MORE Spring 2009
Editor’s Letter

It’s a bit wordy, but Francis Cartier once said, There is only one way in which a person acquires a new idea: by the combination or association of two or more ideas he already has into a new juxtaposition in such a manner as to discover a relationship among them of which he was not previously aware.”

I thought of this quote when I came upon an article in USA Today about how a former Pan Am jumbo jet is no longer taking passengers to the skies, but is instead accommodating them on the ground. After the jet’s previous owner went bankrupt, a Swedish entrepreneur, who was looking to expand his hostel business, purchased the plane. He was seeking a unique location or environment, and that’s certainly what he found.

Now instead of sitting abandoned in a vacant airfield, every inch of the jumbo jet’s 3,800-square-foot floor space is being used and money is being made. There is a reception area and small cafeteria just inside the front entrance, two rows of rooms on each side of the aisle, and showers and toilets in the rear. The bubble on top is even being remodeled into a conference room with first-class flight seats.

The owner said he is hoping for a diverse clientele, including airport taxi drivers stopping for a coffee break in the cafeteria, business travelers needing accommodations and even wedding parties looking for an unusual ceremony. While I’m not suggesting that specialty stores will start popping up along abandoned subway rails or beached ocean liners, what I am suggesting is looking at things in a new way, taking products or ideas you already have and finding different ways to make them profitable.

Could a space in your store be used more advantageously? Is there a product on the shelf that has been sitting there, untouched, that could be rearranged, moved or displayed in a different fashion? Sometimes it takes a bit of innovation, improvisation and creativity to keep sales steady and profitable, especially in economic times such as these.

Finding a fresh use for an existing product is nothing new, as a large number of products sold today are made from recycled materials through environmentally friendly business practices. “Green” products are no longer novelty items, as they can be found on shelves everywhere from zoo gift shops to grocery stores. In our Going Green feature, we take a look at the popularity of selling sustainable products and whether today’s unstable economy has had an effect on consumer attitude and buying habits. Do customers want to go green or save green, and how can retailers get the best of both worlds?

And among other articles, we travel from a gift shop in a Seattle zoo to The Shop at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Although one deals with hogs and the other with Hogs, many of the same retail principles apply — it’s just a matter of how you look at it.

I hope you look at this issue and are able to acquire a new idea or discover “a relationship of which you were not previously aware” among the products you have. Some of the very best things are right before our eyes and we are unaware!

Until next time, Abby”





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