Last week I attended the Spring Gift Fair with visitor engagement co-ordinator Amanda Sye.

This is an enormous trade fair open only to retailers.

We went with a focus on looking for new suppliers and new product for the MTG Hawke's Bay shop to ensure we have a rich and varied range of goods available.

While we already have some great product in our shop there's always scope for more and, importantly, to ensure there's always something new for repeat customers.


We have some key purchasing criteria that we try to meet whenever we can.

Where possible, we prefer New Zealand-made and, while we cannot solely stock New Zealand product, where there are two comparable products in a similar price range we preference New Zealand-made.

We have a similar approach to sustainability and, where we can, will offer sustainable product.

Interestingly, at the gift fair we saw some great sustainable product but it came wrapped in copious amounts of plastic, so there is still a way to go to get this right.

We already support a number of local makers and artisans and will continue to have high quality locally-made product available where we can and when it meets other criteria.

A very important factor is considering our audiences and finding product they're likely to buy.

For locals, we need to have a range of great books, higher-quality gift items and fabulous jewellery.

Friends of MTG enjoy a 10 per cent discount in our shop so if you would like to enjoy a discount talk to our friendly customer-service team about becoming a Friend.

We also need to think about tourists and look for things that are authentic, lightweight and can easily fit into a suitcase such as flat-packed items, jewellery, slim books, pounamu, tea towels and so on.

As well, we need to have "trinkets" or souvenirs, gift items they can take home to give to others.

Locals also buy to send overseas so all the factors for tourists still apply. For all visitors, price point is important and we need to aim to cater for all budget levels.

We're hoping to add in a range to suit corporate clients and will be exploring this in the near future.
Specific things we were looking for at the gift fair included more jewellery options, because this is an area for which we should be known.

We were also on the lookout for appropriate Māori product, which can be challenging, because finding authentic but commercially priced product is extremely hard.

Increasing the range of art product was another item on the list, specifically prints of works related to, or directly from, our collection. And finally we were hoping to find more product for children that was relevant to the museum.

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Did we find everything we were looking for? No but we did find a lot of new products and new suppliers that were relevant.

We're planning some exciting changes to our shop so watch this space. What would you like to see in our shop?

• New Zealand International Film Festival at MTG Century Theatre until September 16. Tickets available at MTG now.

• Introduction to Māori Language. Join our Māori Curator Te Hira Henderson amongst the wonderful taonga in our Tēnei Tonu gallery for a free 30-minute Introduction to Māori Language session. Please register at or by ringing MTG as spaces are limited. Tēnei Tonu gallery, MTG September 13 & 15, 11am

• Celebrate 125 years of women's suffrage with two free movies. Gaylene Preston's short film Hot Words & Bold Retorts focuses on New Zealand's 1893 elections and campaign, followed by the 2015 Suffragettes film set in 1912 London, where a young working mother is galvanised into radical political activism. MTG Century Theatre, Wednesday, September 19, 2pm and 6pm. Free event, no booking required

Join art curator Jess Mio on a free lunch-time tour of public art in Napier. Please register at or by ringing MTG because spaces are limited. Tours start at MTG Hawke's Bay. Thursday , September 20, midday

• Laura Vodanovich is the director of the Museum Theatre Gallery (MTG) Hawke's Bay.