museums&MORE Fall 2019
Museum Store Sunday: advocating for nonprofit retail while increasing community engagement and store sales By Jess Schmidt

{Sponsored} Museum stores stand to increase their profile and advocacy role during the third annual Museum Store Sunday on Dec. 1, 2019, an event devoted to advocating on behalf of nonprofit retail while encouraging consumer and community engagement and sales in participating stores. As of this publication, over 1,200 stores have already chosen to participate, and those stores represent all 50 states, Washington D.C., and 18 countries on five continents around the world.

Founded by the Museum Store Association (MSA), Museum Store Sunday is the largest annual community-facing event for the stores involved. The best part is that each store, and each cultural institution, will present different products and events reflective of the institution of which they are a part. Many Museum Store Sunday participant stores will offer a 20% discount store-wide; in addition, stores are including special products or events to attract consumers and increase community participation.

“We will invite local artisans to present and offer trunk shows at our museum stores. Since we oversee two distinct museums, we will have artisans that reflect each institution’s mission,” said Stuart Hata, co-chair of the national Museum Store Sunday Committee and director of retail operations at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the de Young and Legion of Honor museums. Hata felt it is important to include local artisans because “Museum Store Sunday is our global annual day of advocacy celebrating how museum stores are resources for local communities and their visitors.”

Since every cultural institution is unique, each store’s approach to Museum Store Sunday will be different. Hata and his co-chairs encourage museum stores to take inspiration for their Museum Store Sunday event from the educational mission of their institution. For example, the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library will be exhibiting Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere, so the Museum Store Sunday chairs would encourage the institution’s store to focus on that historical figure during Museum Store Sunday. “We want Museum Store Sunday to be educational and mission-related, yet fun and celebratory,” Hata said.

Another co-chair of the event, Angela Colasanti, is an artisan herself. She started selling jewelry at a holiday pop-up market and soon became a vendor member of the MSA, which allows Colasanti to support the greater good and the programming mission of the MSA.

Vendor members of the MSA have a high stake in this event because they invest in long-term relationships with museum stores. The Museum Store Sunday Committee chairs include two museum retail professionals plus a vendor member, and this combination is a true reflection of the MSA membership. “We can sit together and work on the purpose of advancing this initiative, and that is really possible because of the environment that MSA creates for all stakeholders involved,” Colasanti said.

Colasanti is helping Museum Store Sunday gain attention in a different way: she leads the strategic partnerships and advocacy workgroup, which will be reaching out to several groups of potential advocates to gain support for the event. Elected de-Young-Museum-MSSofficials are an important piece of the cultural patronage puzzle. The committee will create letters that institutions can use to send out to their elected officials to help gain their support of nonprofit retail and further spread the message to their constituents.

Additionally, the strategic partnerships and advocacy workgroup will take the message to appropriate advocacy groups and reach out to member organizations. “We want to take the message to member organizations so they can disseminate it to their members. It’s like business-to-business outreach. We think there is a lot of potential, because we are talking to people who are receptive to hearing our message of supporting cultural nonprofits,” Colasanti said.


The Museum Store Sunday engagement and recruitment workgroup is Museum Store Sunday Logofocusing on grassroots outreach via the eight regional chapters of the MSA within the U.S. and abroad. Co-chair Laura Murphy, buyer/operations manager at The Preservation Society of Newport County, and her committee are personally reaching out to museums to encourage participation, working with them to plan for an eventful day.

On, stores can register for free to participate in Museum Store Sunday and can then access an online toolkit that provides a wide array of resources available to help them prepare for and promote their participation.


Hata believes that it is important to show support for cultural institutions and their stores and to patronize museums since “arts and cultural funding is under siege,” Hata said. The resources that nonprofit retail stores are provided are insufficient, so by completing holiday or everyday shopping at these stores, consumers and communities can demonstrate that they are patronizing and supporting cultural institutions and ensuring continued cultural heritage. Museum Store Sunday helps inform patrons to “learn, be inspired, and expand their knowledge and appreciation of what they discover in museums and other cultural institutions,” Hata said.

Over two-thirds of MSA institution members are already participating in Museum Store Sunday, but the event isn’t limited to members of MSA. Participation in Museum Store Sunday is open to all independently operated museum stores and nonprofit retailers located at zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, historic sites, and other unique cultural institutions in the United States and internationally. Participating institutions benefit from free listings on the store locator that in 2018 experienced more than 19,000 visits by consumers searching for local institutions that were participating in Museum Store Sunday. Also, last year’s institutions participating in Museum Store Sunday were featured in regional and national print, broadcast, and digital press, providing valuable media coverage for these institutions and helping to communicate their value as unique retailers during the holiday shopping season. To learn more about Museum Store Sunday, visit

© 2019 Museum Store Association

Jess Schmidt

Jess brings a creative writing degree and over 16 years of professional writing experience to her role as content marketer for the Great American Media Services and SmartSolutions teams. With her additional background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language and marketing strategy. She moonlights as a contributing writer with Gift Shop Plus from time to time.

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