Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Museum Store Association Gallery at LA Mart: A First

Nancy & Daedre
I was there. Dunitz & Company was there. And Museum Store Association was there. Where? The LA Mart temps. Thanks are due Daedre Berryman of Studio Daedre (Western Region, Chapter Vendor Advisor) who worked tirelessly coordinating with LA Mart staff. Her efforts resulted in a new dedicated gallery for MSA vendor members to show off their wares. A shout out to Nora Wade from the LA Mart as well. Nora's the staff that definitely made the gallery "happen"!

MSA Table
Up front and center was our group's table offering information about Museum Store Association. Retailers grabbed available materials including copies of Museum Store magazine. We fielded their questions. I must say, Mary Lind from World Finds was particularly helpful in this department.


Ribbon Cutting
What was really wonderful was the placement of the Museum Store Association gallery. We all were the first thing buyers saw when they entered the "Temp" section of the show. LA Mart even staged a ribbon cutting to announce our new section. Follow the red arrow. Susan Tudor, MSA President (Cummer Museum) was right there in the middle of the welcoming crowd. See the tie dye and costumes? Mart staff dressed for the theme of this market,"Summer of Love". (A DJ in the Mart lobby, just outside of our room, was spinning lots of 60s tunes. Occasionally you'd find one of us bopping to a favorite tune.)

Dunitz Table & Me
Tables were reasonably priced, allowing several MSA members to exhibit. I'm based in Los Angeles, so for me, this was a no-brainer.  The affordability encouraged some out of towners to throw their hats in the ring as well.  It's amazing what one can manage with a 6' table. I'm still shocked that I could effectively show off so many Dunitz fair trade designs on such a small space. By comparison, I have a 15' booth at NY Now.  (Didn't make it to Los Angeles? Find Dunitz & Company at NY Now in Booth 1758, Global Handmade.)

MSA Group Shot
So here's the thing. It will take time to grow a new section of the show, both in terms of exhibitors and buyers. I'm willing to ride the wave. I met new buyers this week, including a few from museums. And I wrote orders with a few. Even if the market seemed slow, in the end, I wrote more than enough business to justify my time and expenses. I believe most of us in the MSA section did. [Photo here includes from L>R, Me, Susan Tudor, Daedre Barryman, Mary Lind Mahmud, Jennifer Barnella]

Another bonus of a smaller show? You get to know some of your neighbors really well! One morning Krista from Krista Bermeo Studio brought in homemade tamales from a vendor selling near her AirBnB. Those were seriously yummy... & her jewelry is in my opinion completely drool-worthy. Pat from Chick Boss designs a line that is made, like mine, in Guatemala. Her metal creations look nothing like what I do and they're fabulous. Gosh, the artisans in Guatemala are amazing. Kenny from Gallery Drinkware was a total delight. And talk about small world.  My niece, Helen Gotlib (an amazing artist, BTW) moved from her Ann Arbor, Main Street home a few years ago because it was being torn down to build condos. Turns out Kenny's in-laws bought one of those condos and occasionally receive Helen's mail.
I also spent some time chatting with exhibitors from permanent showrooms. (They came downstairs to the Temps to check us out.) I loved that they were so positive about the MSA Gallery. They all believe that growing a section such as ours is good for everyone. What smart people they are! They know if more museum buyers attend the LA Mart, that's more potential quality business for all of them. One larger company owner even suggested the Mart should reduce our table fees.

Instagram Story
In typical fashion, I also spent some energy promoting the LA Mart and MSA Gallery on social media. This was my favorite IG Story post. Sara and others were all decked out in psychedelic clothing and in the hall directing buyers and answering their questions.

Los Angeles Mart
At the end of the day, one of the things I enjoy most is working with my customers. I love seeing buyers I've worked with for years. And I very much enjoy acquainting myself with those new to me. And now I want to sing! "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold." Perhaps you'll join Dunitz & Company at the LA Mart in January 2020 to do the same. -ND

MSA-LA Mart Pin