In the last year, the GRPM Curiosity Shop has grown from a traditional gift shop to a destination to shop local goods by West Michigan artists.
This transition was in large part to the vision of Curiosity Shop Manager, Dana Albrecht. We asked Dana, in her own words, to describe what motivated the shift in focus and how working with local consignment artists has elevated the shopping experience.
The landscape of retail has changed drastically in recent years. From supply chain issues to growing shipping costs, small brick-and-mortar businesses have had to innovate to remain in business. Despite these changes, consumer expectations for immediacy, convenience, and the lowest price available proliferated. This dynamic put a ton of pressure on smaller shops to compete with retail giants for survival, despite having none of these resources at their advantage.
My unique challenge was to figure out how our Curiosity Shop could stand in the face of these growing changes and offer something the giants could not…curated handmade goods that reflected our own community. Building local partnerships enhanced our ability to put dollars back into our economy and create visibility for small businesses. As a result, we’ve been able to decrease shipping and the upfront cost of goods while gaining the flexibility to easily adjust inventory as it serves the public’s interest, exhibit relevance, and the businesses themselves.
Since I started working here, 1 year and 4 months ago, we’ve established 38 local consignor relationships and will continue to grow exponentially in this direction. The reception of these changes by our visitors has been deeply rewarding. Most people walk into a museum retail space with an expectation of souvenir merchandise, toys, and tchotchkes. Innovating means we have a distinct opportunity to defy consumer expectations and use large visitor traffic to connect local makers with potential buyers, strengthening the fabric of our community and giving the shopper an experience they simply won’t get at other museums.
Meet the artists representing GRPM exhibits in the Curiosity Shop.
Fashion + Nature
Iconoclasp – Ashley Trieu
Original handmade clothing and accessories.
Public Thread – Designer Collective
Specialty fabrics, traditional textiles, and 3D knit material.
Solstice Handmade – Dayna Walton
Pins, patches, stickers, prints, and cards.
Nature Walk Studio – Donovan & Casey Scott
Accessories and apparel.
Beemo Textiles – Brie Moblo
Accessories and apparel.
More Noteworthy Cosigners
Bush7 – Indigenous Artist Collective
Art, keychains, stickers, and cards reflecting the themes of the Huron Potawatomi Tribe.
Up North Living – Colleen Bowden
Trays, coasters, and jewelry that highlight Michigan rocks and minerals.
WagsStuff LLC – Greg Wagner
Local-themed mugs, greeting cards, Swedish dishcloths, and cookbooks.