Seeing what there is to buy

With the Museum’s opening day fast approaching, all things related to visitor services are starting to loom large. One of our highest priorities is getting the gift shop up and running for you, our visitors.  With that in mind, I headed to the Toronto Gift Fair this past January to see the kinds of goods available to us as we start to fill our shelves. Basically, I was going shopping. I can do that.

floor plan of the exhibit hall

This is the map for just ONE of the two convention centres—covering almost one-quarter of a million square feet—used to host this event!

Before I left, colleagues warned me that this was a large fair and I would need some time to see all the booths, but I didn’t fully grasp just how big it was until I stepped into the first hall. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. The fair took up two convention centres, filling nine halls with more than 2,500 booths. I quickly got over my shock—or at least I recovered enough to begin window-shopping. I saw all sorts of amazing booths and products, and the vendors were great. There were a few items I wanted to take home with me right there and then, but, sadly, we’re not selling large oil paintings at our shop. This fair had something for everyone. There was an entire hall dedicated to kitchen ware, another one for gourmet foods, plus one for jewellery. There were booths offering stuffed animals, books and even lawn decorations.

exhibit hall

The entrance to the fair.

vendor booths

These highlighted items were found throughout the exhibit halls.

exhibit hall and booths

The rows of booths seemed endless.

Over the course of two days, I prowled the halls scouting out the best items for our new shop. I had to keep reminding myself that the products we aim to sell must tie in with our particular museum and, specifically, our new mandate. With the change from the Currency Museum to the Bank of Canada Museum, the inventory in the shop will need to reflect our new goals and messaging.  While combing through the maze of booths I saw some really amazing children’s toys and stationery that I knew we just had to have. But I won’t reveal all just yet—I’d rather save some surprises for when visitors walk in to the shop.

Once we open, you can also look forward to seeing a lot more books and objects that reflect the history of the Bank of Canada and the different aspects of its work in our economy. And we may even offer items related to the art that goes into the creation of Canada’s bank notes. 

plastic dinosaur and frog

An example of some of the unusual items that were for sale at the fair. I wish I had room for this in my garden.

Of course, we’ll continue to carry some of your favourites from our previous shop: collectible bank notes, coins, products from the Royal Canadian Mint and, yes, pens stuffed full of shredded money. But, for now, I’ll be taking a couple of months to go through all the different catalogues and brochures I picked up while at the gift fair. My goal is to build up a fascinating inventory to ensure everything is ready for your first visit this summer!