museums&MORE Spring 2013
The Mob Museum Gift Store

Making an offer you just can’t refuse

There are two sides to every story, and The Mob Museum in the heart of Las Vegas showcases both sides of the notorious battle between organized crime and law enforcement. With high-tech theater presentations, iconic one-of-a-kind artifacts and interactive exhibits, you can finally discover the whole truth and nothing but the truth” and get as “close to the Mob as possible without being asked to wear a wire.”

And once you’re done with that, you can visit the gift store. With large fingerprints on the walls and silhouettes of handcuffs, ice picks, brass knuckles and baseball bats (mob weapons of choice) on the floor tiles, visitors can pick up a gift to take home with no strings — or wire taps — attached.

“The store’s unique product is directly developed in collaboration with The Mob Museum’s content and both sides of the story are told through merchandise vignettes within the store,” said Sue Reynolds, store director. “We have a very diverse clientele, with guests visiting from all over the world.

“Many countries still associate Al Capone with the American Mafia, but they also enjoy learning about the more recent mafia families,” Reynolds continued. “Regardless of where our guests are from, they can find souvenirs that represent their visit to The Mob Museum.”

Hot Goods
The Mob Museum itself rests inside the historic former federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office, a building that’s one of the few remaining historically significant buildings in Las Vegas and is included on both the Nevada and National Registers of Historic Places.

At the beginning of the museum tour, the museum has a prohibition exhibit that’s expanded upon in the store with a “Keep Calm and Speak Easy” prohibition theme, including a “Tipsy Squirrel” moonshine water bottle. At the end of the tour, there is a recording booth that allows guests to record their Mob stories and an opportunity for them to purchase an “I’ve Got a Mob Story” T-shirt and several gangster DVDs in the shop.

“The store is a forced exit store, so guests enter the store directly from their extensive museum tour and are (currently) greeted with a feature table of our best-selling books,” Reynolds said. “This is a great area that allows guests a moment to ‘decompress’ from their tour before they realize that they have now entered the store.”

Each of the fixtures tells a story through the selection of merchandise — whether it be FBI and law enforcement, Al Capone and The Valentine’s Day Massacre, Las Vegas itself or just an appeal to the bowling/beer loving crowd with The Mob Museum logo bowling shirts and pilsner glasses.

For those guests who want to expand upon what they learned throughout the museum, the store offers a substantial amount of books on the subject of the mafia and law enforcement. Other top selling items include logo apparel (“I Saw Nothing at The Mob Museum” T-shirts), fedoras, gangster playing cards, Al Capone shot glasses, gun and bullet ice trays and brass knuckle meat tenderizers.

“Men love our brass knuckle mug, gun-shaped ice trays and fedoras and women are drawn to our best conversation accessory — the ‘Do Not Cross’ crime scene scarf, as well as mugs and magnets,” Reynolds said. “Kids, especially boys of all ages, have to play with the plastic Tommy gun.”

One of the most unique features in the store is the original 1933 post office walk-in vault that’s now used to house all of the souvenir magnets that represent many of the exhibits in the museum. Other value items include the “loaded” dice that are guaranteed to roll 7 or 11, and the gangster playing cards that feature a different gangster on every card. For those who want to spend a bit more, Reynolds said Godfather Monopoly Collector’s Edition is a must.

Buyer Beware
Given that many guests are traveling, they also carry a selection of Las Vegas merchandise. They’ve found that guests may come to the museum before their trip home, and the selection of Las Vegas items allows them to “one-stop shop” for both a museum souvenir and a Las Vegas souvenir.

“Our buyers are very good at their jobs and the product mix shows just how much fun they have pursuing product,” Reynolds said. “We actively listen to our guests for product ideas as they come from such diverse backgrounds.

“Many of our guests are very passionate about the Mob’s role in history and have great personal stories to share, as well as book titles to suggest,” she continued. “We also work closely with The Mob Museum marketing team to determine whether or not something is in good taste to represent the museum and its mission.”

In addition, they also have the unique opportunity to make the acquaintance of some former mobsters and law enforcement personnel. When they have visits from these individuals, they are often more than willing to sign the books that share their personal stories.

“I think that any museum store manager will agree that this niche is the best that retail has to offer,” Reynolds said. “Building rapport with your guests is vital to our business, and we have the best jobs in the entire retail field.”

And for Reynolds — and many of the people who shop in the store — that’s an offer they just can’t refuse.

Close Connections

On my first visit to the store, before the grand opening, I watched the short film that plays in the theatre. In this film, screenwriter Nick Pileggi describes many gangster/mob movies. He tells a story of how during the filming of “Casino” Martin Scorsese thought a scene wasn’t quite right. His technical adviser, Frank Cullotta, told him: “Of course it’s not right. That’s not what happened. First I shot the guy, then I tried to strangle him with a toaster cord, but the cord broke.”

At that point Scorsese realized that Frank had committed this murder, for which he received immunity. Scorsese put Frank in the film for this segment and it ends with a graphic image of Frank shooting a guy in the head.

Well, the next day during the grand opening, Frank Cullotta was here to sign books and he was a bit unenthusiastic about the location of his signing table and voiced this opinion to me. I can’t put into words what was going through my head as I thought of how I could possibly appease him! All I could envision was that scene from “Casino” and how I didn’t want that to happen to me. However, I’m happy to say that I am still here and that Frank and I have a great working relationship!

— Sue Reynolds, store director

By Abby Heugel
Managing Editor

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