“My daughter used to do that,” commented sales associate Nancy Izuno. “Of course in those days people were tripping over her,” laughed Nancy Allison, her manager. They were observing a young museum visitor, who sat on the floor of the Museum of Science and Technology (the MOST) gift shop surrounded by stuffed dinosaurs. The cramped gift shop that they remember is long gone, replaced by a bright airy space with enough aisle space for young visitors to explore. Increased visitors (and $30,000 in higher revenue) are a result of the renovation.
When the MOST approached us about supporting the gift shop renovation they wondered if we still “did” capital projects, given our focus on capacity building. But in reality, a project like the gift shop renovation was a perfect fit for two of our focus areas: projects that create more efficiencies, and projects that help diversify revenue. The results show clearly how a capital grant also builds capacity.
“We are now able to expand product, especially for tie-ins to our exhibits and STEM activities,” said Allison. A popular element of the museum has returned: the “ore cars,” filled with crystal points, agates and pyrite. “Everyone loves this, but we never had room in the shop itself before,” she added. “We have a number of customers who are collectors of rocks and minerals, and now we are able to offer upgraded products and displays.”
As an institution that caters to families, there was also a need for wider aisles to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs (and of course, playing children.) “When we had school groups it was particularly difficult before,” noted Izuno. “Now each child can find and purchase that small gift to remind them of their visit.” Teachers come regularly to buy materials for their STEM curriculum, and the increased visibility of the space means repeat shoppers visit for holiday and birthday items.
Thus a $20,000 grant towards renovations has helped the MOST grow. A more efficient use of space, a stronger dedicated stream of income as well as enhanced opportunities for community and educational engagement combine to fulfill the organizational mission and sustain its operations.
And that young girl playing in the aisle? She is now a college student who has volunteered at the MOST since 2014.