museums&MORE Spring 2017
Q&A with ZAG board president Michael Davis By Zeke Jennings

Michael Davis was elected ZAG board president in 2014 and will complete his term this year. Holding such a key role in the organization had made him a well-know figure in the industry. He shares what he’s learned on the job, as well as a little bit about his love for 1980s era alternative music.

Michael Davis

Retail Sales Manager, Zootique at Cameron Park Zoo

Waco, Texas

What question do you get asked most often by ZAG members?

“How does ZAG benefit me?” Luckily this is an easy one to answer. Our mission at ZAG is to improve and facilitate communication between independent gift shop buyers, and to promote professionalism within the industry. An independent gift shop buyer at a small or medium size facility can often feel out of the loop when it comes to industry news and trends. I speak from experience. As a member of ZAG, a buyer has access to our educational and informative website ( and is part of a community of buyers and vendor sponsors sharing information, ideas and solutions to help them be a better, more informed, more professional buyer.

What has being board president taught you?

An important thing I have learned during my tenure is that the commonality we share as independent buyers is more powerful than any differences in our facility size or organizational structure. I have had the honor of interacting with leaders in the Museum Stores Association, national hospital gift shop buyers, buyers in caverns and gardens. I have found that the issues and challenges we all face as independent gift shop buyers are the same. ZAG strives to address these issues and challenges and provide our members with a conduit of information regarding business practices, industry trends, merchandising standards, conservation commerce and much more. The community of independent gift shop buyers deserves a voice at the table when it comes to the issues in our industry and I feel ZAG has helped facilitate that.

Could you share something about yourself ZAG colleagues may not know?

We currently have four dogs, three cats and a box tortoise. All of our animal family members are rescue animals, and we usually foster a dog or two each year. Next to my family, my biggest passions are my animals and music. I co-owned a record store from 1985-88, and music is still my biggest and most expensive hobby. I try to make it to 20-25 concerts a year; I’ve slowed down in my twilight years. I especially enjoy taking my son and daughter to see bands I saw in the ‘80s. I’ve come full circle since my youth and started collecting vinyl copies of albums that I’d traded up to CDs and then digital downloads of. A lot of my free time is spent with headphones on, searching the internet for vintage Smiths and The Cure import LPs!

Zeke Jennings

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