The retail aspect of our non-profit offers an eye-opening snapshot of how our visitors are shopping with their conscience as well as their wallets.
The powerful trend of purchasing locally made products reveals that our visitors have a growing desire to use their money in a way that benefits a smaller community. An informed consumer takes to heart that every dollar they spend can have an ethical consequence.
The plus side to the trend is that our museum shop doesn’t have to change a thing. We’ve always believed in the shop local philosophy. It’s been at our core long before it became a marketing trend or popular hashtag. American Express created the current shop small, and Small Business Saturday events in 2010 in an effort to reach out to small business at the height of the modern depression.
It turns out that the real force behind the shop local trend is not the marketing influence of giant credit lenders. It comes from small retail shops, just like ours, and it’s genuine. The National Retail Federation reports that companies with fewer than 50 employees do 98% of retail operations in the US.
That means in the age of giant corporate online retailers, the little shops on Main Street still rule. Our Main Street, of course, is the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.
We sell a wide range of hand made items from local artisans; two-dimensional art, pottery, hand carved sculpture, and a range of jewelry. It matters that we do this. And it matters even more that consumers are supporting the products. It’s a no brainer that a hand made object created by a hometown artisan is going to make for a special vacation souvenir or gift. However, in today’s data driven KPI’s, ROI’s, and predictive analytics, it has to make financial sense for a small shop to devote a large amount of square footage to products that don’t come from factories.
Good news; it does. Better news; it always has.
Our artist consignments can make up as much as 50% of our sales for a given month. Some artists are so popular that we are able to purchase works from them wholesale, as we would from a major supplier.
The Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum will always share the beautiful work of our local community of artists. It always will. Not only is it the smart thing to do, the profitable thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.