CULTURE

Museum gift shops to sell new souvenir range

The Organization for the Promotion of Greek Culture (OPEP) wants to bring the gift shops of the country’s museums up to the standards seen only in some parts of Greece and in the rest of Europe by introducing a slew of new products and creating a website where these products are available online. These new products are well-known favorites for tourists to Greece. They include mugs, refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, coasters, bags, T-shirts, pens and pencils, notepads, stationery kits, and other gifts whose prices range from 40 cents to 35 euros. The idea is for every member of a family to find a little something to take home as a souvenir from their museum visit. Over the past year, eight OPEP shops were in business in the past year in areas such as the Acropolis, Olympia, and the National Archaeological, Epidaurus and Mycenae museums. They cost 2 million euros to put together and will be complemented by another seven gift shops budgeted at a cost of 1 million euros, OPEP managers said at a recent press conference. One of these seven shops could become a gift shop on the island of Delos, but local authorities have yet to give the green light to the plan. Research conducted on the operation and sales of the OPEP gift shops through questionnaires completed by 350 customers from May to July of 2004 came back with mostly positive results. The research also showed that buyers’ interest seemed to focus on items such as postcards, catalogs and guides. «When we (OPEP) took over such a limited network of gift shops facing serious problems in infrastructure and product distribution, we ran into several obstacles when trying to redesign and readapt the shops according to the criteria which were already in place,» said OPEP President Stamatis Mavros. «At the same time, we added to the existing infrastructure, conducted extensive studies on all facets of their operation and streamlined the management of available funds, always with complete transparency.» Nikolaos Nikolakopoulos, manager of OPEP, said the new products being launched by OPEP were designed to project a modern image of Greece, while data presented at the press conference showed that, since the pilot phase of the new products’ launch began, sales have increased steadily. Indeed, within the first three months of their launch, the new products climbed up customers’ preference lists, while sales in the period from January to April of 2005 came to 300,000 euros in comparison to a 550,000-euro total for all of 2004. Mavros noted that the funds being brought in by the museum gift shops were being invested in information technology and other tools, such as mobile devices for guided tours. The website for the online museum shop is www.museumshop.gr and all information is available in Greek and English.