Two state bodies compete in keeping gift shops supplied

Today’s museum visitors are not just interested in permanent collections and temporary exhibitions but also in small souvenirs that they can take away with them. However well-made the copies by the Archaeological Receipts Fund (TAP) are, the majority of buyers prefer to spend money on more affordable items. In Greece, there are in total 25 TAP shops and eight OPEP shops. Two state organizations with the same focus bear the weight of provisioning the market. The Archaeological Receipts Fund supplies a larger number of museum stores with its products (not always available, however, when one wants) and OPEP supplies its own shops with more competitive products. The overlap seems unnecessary and one would expect them to combine forces in order to decide who to target, what the range of the market is and what each organization can undertake. TAP, for example, has considerable experience in making copies and other large products and also has a workshop, whereas OPEP could focus on the smaller items and applications. «We have good cooperation between us,» declared the OPEP president, Stamatis Mavros. «This is stipulated in the founding charter of both OPEP and TAP. OPEP serves the strategic goals laid down by the Greek government to upgrade the museum shop areas.» However in the TAP stores, there are no OPEP products, though in the newly created gift shops TAP copies are on sale. «There are now favorable developments as regards this rather unusual competition,» added Mavros. We were unable, though, to find out what Ms Romiopoulou, the TAP director, thought. The new gift shops first appeared in 2003, in Vergina, on the Acropolis and in Olympia, and the others were opened in 2004, at Epidaurus, Mycenae, Delphi, Knossos and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. There were however many problems. «Under the previous management, sales totaled just 45,000 euros, where sales from last May until now came to 980,458 euros. We are making good progress,» said Mavros, and pointed out that in May alone sales were 147,000 euros. The location of the gift shops is a major problem. «Those choices were made with erroneous criteria. The shops were opened in places where they were not noticeable, as if they were an offense to the museum exhibition area and their exhibits. «The shops should be centrally located so that they are noticeable and can promote their products.» This would translate into more sales and greater earnings. The OPEP shop on the Acropolis, for example, is not located where visitors are likely to see it and this is evident in its poor sales.» In the spring of 2006, we will witness a new generation of gift ships. The locations chosen for these shops are in Lindos, the Palace of the Knights on Rhodes, Corfu, Santorini, Iraklion in Crete, the Phaestos Palace and the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. «The studies will have been submitted by the end of the summer.» The new policy suggests that useful items be produced, as the majority of visitors prefer small and cheap items that are easy to carry. Unlike TAP, which produces casts and copies of statues, columns and heavy pricey items that large companies prefer, such as banks and hotels, the OPEP invests in small objects as these are the products that sell well. Apart from the existing 351 products, another 88 different products of this range were launched onto the market: pencil cases, office accessories, mugs, bags, children’s puzzles and other such items decorated with the frescoes of Santorini, Pella and Delos. Ancient art Themes of ancient Greek art are depicted on these products, inspired from various sources, such as the Phaestos disc, the spring frescoes from Thera and of the Prince of Knossos. Prices range from 40 cents to 35 euros, making the products affordable to all visitors. They are also available from the online store at, where visitors can have the items delivered abroad. The most expensive item on sale in these shops is a statue of Poseidon, worth 3,000 euros, which is made by TAP.

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