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oday’s children’s museums have gone beyond simple “play” and blend learning and fun in a unique and interactive way. As an extension of the museum, the gift stores aim for children to bring a piece of the museum experience home with them. As a result, children’s museums gift shops often have to find the balance between unusual items that will catch a child’s eye and an item that has an educational value. For store managers and buyers, this sends them on the hunt for items not found in traditional big box stores.

Amy, Jacob and Mason Aronowitz photographed at the Museum of Discovery and Science. The Explore Store carries numerous science kits and science experiments to spark curious minds.

Meri Frauwirth, shop manager of the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, said she uses her own grandchildren as inspiration when stocking her store. “I buy things that I would buy for them.” Frauwirth said it’s important to be aware of what’s carried in big box stores so that there’s not an overlap in her store. “That’s what sets us apart,” she said.

Since Frauwirth has to deal with a 500-square-foot store, she said she doesn’t stock her store with holiday-specific items nor does she buy in huge quantities because she doesn’t have the shelf space. “I try out a lot of new items and then reorder them if they’re popular,” she said. In terms of pricing, Frauwirth said she offers a wide selection of items under $30. For kids on field or school trips looking to buy something, “we have a nice range of items in the $1 to $10 price range.”


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