The Museum of London has teamed up with Craft Central, a non-profit organisation that brings together artists and makers, to create a seasonal pop-up shop located just outside the permanent museum shop in the museum’s foyer. The museum decided not to make it a separate pop-up shop but instead used the locked cabinets and display cubes in this area to give more of a “boutique” feel.
“We were keen for the museum shop customers to browse this offer as part of their visit,” says Rita Rooney, Retail Buying and Licensing Manager at the Museum of London. “London is one of the most creative cities in the world and one of the museums aims is to stimulate and showcase that creativity both within and beyond its walls. We feel that, in order to follow this aim, it is important the museum shop supports local artists and makers.”
The museum shop stocks a range of seasonal products and gift lines and sees uplifts in sales for this period due to the peak in visitor numbers over the Christmas/New Year break. The selling period at the pop-up shop is six weeks from November 14 to December 23.
With the collaboration the museum wanted to support local artists and makers by giving them the opportunity to showcase their work in the shop. The stock has been supplied on sale or return basis with the museum taking commission on sales (they are taking a lower profit margin than usual on these products to allow the participants to maximise their profit).
“As a key selling period for retail we felt that this was the perfect time to trial a collaboration of this nature,” says Rooney. “However, unlike a high street retailer, the Museum of London’s retail spend is primarily driven by museum and exhibition visitors rather than seasonality. Therefore, through targeted publicity around the collaboration including listings, press coverage and social media, we could drive more shop specific visits and ultimately higher sales levels for this period.”
The parameters for the collaboration were for the products to be London designed and made in the UK. This fits with the museums wider retail vision to have a larger proportion of products that are sourced from London designers. Another benefit of this collaboration, says Rooney, has been the ability to try out a new range of products in a low risk way without any stock commitment.
“We looked at a few different organisations and chose Craft Central as they are a not-for-profit organisation based locally in London,” she says. “They are dedicated to building a strong future for craft and design by giving members of their network the opportunity to show work in exhibitions, rent affordable work spaces and get practical business advice.”
The product ranges from the 10 participants were selected to sit well together and to complement the museum’s core ranges. Some ranges selected have a specifically London theme such as printed textiles based on London housing estates, limited edition London prints, ceramics and cards as well as a range of pigeon themed prints and stationery.
The Craft Central collaboration is treated separately from the main shop so the products available do not directly reflect the museum’s collection. However, the parameters for the collaboration were for all of the participants to be based in London so this fits with the museum retail strategy to showcase London creativity.
The museum hopes that visitors have been be pleasantly surprised to find a wide range of products in the shop from London based designer makers as opposed to the London souvenirs they may be expecting.
“Obviously we have given prime space over to this collaboration as well as taking a lower profit margin on these items. Therefore we have had to carefully plan the remaining retail space to ensure that we are not diminishing our overall potential sales and profitability for this period. “
The Museum of London retail team are constantly reviewing and updating the merchandise and book ranges to ensure that they are consistent with the themes in the museum’s collections as well as sourcing specific ranges to link to the exhibition programme. Rooney says that is also important to keep up to date with trends in the sector alongside planning for seasonal events such as Christmas and Easter. This pop-up exercise has revealed that temporary retail offers can not only bring in a little extra cash but can showcase the creativity of a local area and therefore provide an extra layer of experience to the museum visitor.