Extend Your Merchandising Wingspan
Go, Go Gadget Arms: Extend Your Merchandising Wingspan
Jan. 24, 2006
By Abny Santicola, associate editor, FundRaising Success
Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, located in Delaware, sits on acreage settled and lived on by the du Pont family since the early 1800s. In the early 20th century, Henry Francis du Pont had a house -- later named Winterthur -- built to resemble 18th- and 19th-century European country houses. Decorating the house's interior to match this time period, du Pont began to amass a collection of rare antiques and Americana, giving the home and estate as a whole an otherworldly air. Recognizing this and Winterthur's value as an anchor to a time past, du Pont turned the estate into a museum in 1951.
Today the museum serves as an educational tool, acquainting visitors with decorative arts made and used in America between 1640 and 1860, and also boasts a 60-acre garden and a library of American art and material culture.
What does this have to do with merchandising, you wonder?
One of Winterthur's main focuses in its marketing efforts is selling things related to the museum, such as books on decorative arts and gardening, home furnishings, gifts, jewelry and plants at its on-site retail stores. Winterthur also has a Licensed Products Department, which works with licensees (various outside retailers) who "reproduce, adapt or interpret designs from the museum, garden and library collections" bearing the Winterthur trademark, sell them in their stores and pay royalties to the museum. Most of the products are home furnishings.
While the additional exposure gained by having its products sold by licensees generates funds and increases the museum's visibility, Cathy Maxwell, general manager of the museum's licensed products department, says one of the challenges that comes with such a program is that you give up a level of control of the trademark/brand, and a bit of the museum's destiny.