You want to live up to the challenge of getting a Christmas present that will impress the person who has everything.
You’ve scoured the usual suspects — the internet, the mall, the strip mall.
Ever think of a museum gift shop?
Seven of them in Santa Fe are taking part in Museum Store Sunday — the newest designated shopping day during the Thanksgiving weekend extravaganza of consumerism. And with offerings that can be described as clever, classy, cheap or very expensive, those who operate these outlets are certain they can put the you in unique.
“This is the shop for the person that has everything but doesn’t have anything that is in this shop,” said Museum of International Folk Art store manager Chris Jaeger, warming to the Christmas gift challenge. “That may be a stretch, but there is a lot here that you haven’t seen.”
Museum Store Sunday isn’t merely a Santa Fe-centric production. It’s put on across the country and world by the Museum Store Association to draw attention to museum gift shops, which often provide key revenue for museum exhibitions.
Museum gift shops may not have the deep price cuts for Thanksgiving weekend that you’d find on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but several have at least some discounts — a decent one being no sales tax if they are a nonprofit — and maybe some cookies and refreshments, to boot.
Museum Store Sunday started in 2017 and now has 1,200 participating museums in all 50 states, 18 countries and on five continents.
“We knew it was an opportunity to showcase museum stores with their unique mission related products and meaningful experiences, but we didn’t realize its reach,” Susan Tudor, president of Museum Board Association’s board of directors, said in a news release. “Museum Store Sunday is educating consumers around the world about the importance of shopping in museum stores.”
In Santa Fe, the four Museum of New Mexico shops taking part in Museum Store Sunday clear $200,000 a year — money used for development operations to help raise $3 million a year that funds state museum exhibitions and education programs, said Jamie Clements, chief executive of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, which operates the gift shops.
“I can tell you anecdotally that we would lose two staff positions in development [without gift shop profits] and we have seven people in development,” Clements said.
The four state museum gift shop taking part in Museum Store Sunday are the folk art museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New Mexico History Museum, and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. SITE Santa Fe, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden are the other participants.
Though museum gift shops aren’t automatically on some folks’ must-shop list, the word is spreading.
“Museum gift shops are No. 1 on our list,” said shopper Jerri Bollenbach while eyeing the merchandise at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture on Museum Hill. “The buyer here has exquisite taste. I don’t buy for anybody else. I buy for me. I’m worthy.”
In terms of gifts, worth is always in the eye of the beholder — and in many cases, the recipient. And since most museum gift shops, particularly in Santa Fe, focus on authenticity, there’s a natural draw, both for buyers and the craftsmen who supply them.
Tesoro Trading Co. on Canyon Road supplies the folk art museum with Nativity scenes from Peru, Mexico and Guatemala, usually made of pottery or wood. Tesoro also sells the museum tin ornaments from Oaxaca, Mexico.
“They are our best customer,” said Kisla Jimenez, who own Tesoro Trading with her husband, Jason Williams, referring to the folk art museum. “They go out of their way to sell high-quality art.”
The Colleen Cloney Duncan Museum Shop — as the Arts & Culture museum store is named — is largely stocked with products made by 15 to 25 artists from New Mexico pueblos and the Navajo and Hopi tribes in Arizona.
“The artists enjoy knowing their items are sold in a museum gift shop,” said Indian Arts & Culture Museum manager Felipita Ortiz.
The shop has pottery ranging from $35 to $5,800, sterling silver jewelry with inset turquoise natural stones, silk scarves and shawls, Native American music CDs and shelves with some
400 books on Native culture.
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden’s gift shop is in a mobile unit awaiting a permanent home at the 6-year-old attraction on Museum Hill.
When asked what her store has for the person who has everything, retail coordinator Candace Allen responded: “Not everybody has a big metal raven.”
SITE Santa Fe makes it a point to stress its gift shop is “curated,” which doubles as the store name. Store manager Yon Hudson makes sure all items are unique to the store.
“If we see it somewhere else, we stop carrying it,” Hudson said. “I try as best as I can to represent the driving force of our mission. They have to be cutting edge, something you have not seen [in Santa Fe], something you didn’t know you need until you see it.”
Hudson put thought behind the three gift selections he picked out for for the person who has everything. He thought of all budgets, from a $7 bag light to a $3,200 “Lamellae Twisted Cuff” bracelet by the Georg Jensen x Zaha Hadid collection of jewelry.
For his part, New Mexico History Museum’s Spiegelberg Museum Shop manager Vince Gioielli spotlighted numerous colorful dolls, masks and animals by Santa Fe artist Gregory Lomayesva, whose work is also available at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture.
New Mexico Museum of Art shop manager Liz Rannefeld went right for the hefty, 648-page tome, In a Modern Rendering: The Color Woodcuts of Gustave Baumann, released in November. It is priced at $175.
“I had a man come in and buy four of them,” Rannefeld said.