JANM Store Wins Product Development Award

The JANM Store was recently the proud recipient of a 2017 Museum Store Association (MSA) Recognition Award for Product Development. The award recognized the Instructions to All Persons product line, which includes a tote bag and a t-shirt. Inspired by the Civilian Exclusion Orders posted during World War II to inform persons of Japanese ancestry of their impending forced removal and incarceration, these products perfectly embody the museum’s mission to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.

Maria Kwong, JANM’s Director of Retail Enterprises and a current MSA board member, accepted the award at the MSA Conference & Expo in April. She has also written an essay about how she came to develop these products. Below is an edited excerpt.

The Civilian Exclusion Order, with its bold headline reading “Instructions to All Persons of Japanese Ancestry,” has become a symbol of a defining moment in Japanese American history: the World War II incarceration without due process of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. The first product we developed around this historic document was in response to requests for a souvenir magnet. Rather than using a photograph of the museum, we decided to take the Civilian Exclusion Order and reduce it down to a standard refrigerator magnet. Made by Found Image Press, it is now our most popular magnet.

The next product was inspired by the text of the document, which contains the instructions that are so often repeated by camp survivors remembering their experiences—you could take “only what you could carry.” We put the full instructions on one side of a tote bag and the iconic headline on the other. To explain the history behind these words, we created a special informational tag that resembled the ID tags that the prisoners were forced to wear on their journeys to the camps.

The tote bag was launched at a convention in Seattle, with some trepidation as to what kind of reception it would get. But we soon spotted people walking around with their totes and engaging in conversations with curious passersby. The bag was a conversation starter—a chance to talk about the story that is at the core of the Japanese American National Museum.

The t-shirt was initially developed to complement the exhibition Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066, on view at JANM through August 13. Plans for the exhibition, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the signing of the executive order that paved the way for the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans, were in place two years in advance. However, a funny thing happened in the meantime: the election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States.

Xenophobia was on the rise and with it, a renewed passion for civil rights activism. The times were resonating with our mission and we started feeling that a more active voice needed to be raised, not just a cautionary tale. With that in mind, production was moved up on the t-shirt and new words were added to the iconic headline—a call to action “to all persons who believe in civil rights.” By the time Instructions to All Persons opened in February, the t-shirt was showing up on social media and at marches and protests around the country.

From the very beginning of my association with MSA, I have taken the lessons of product development to heart: do your best to present your museum’s mission in products that will resonate and become a catalyst for learning and transforming the world.

Fundraising Auction of Usagi Yojimbo Artwork

Stan & Sharon Sakai at the 2011 Japanese American National Museum Gala Dinner
Stan & Sharon Sakai at the 2011 Japanese American National Museum Gala Dinner

Just a heads up about this most worthy cause. The art in this auction is also being published as a book which we will sell in the Museum Store later this year.

Proceeds from the auction and book sales will help to offset the Sakai family’s ongoing medical expenses. There is some GREAT art to be had created by a stellar list of artists. The auction starts on March 6!

Click here for details >>

Stan and Sharon have been wonderful supporters and partners of JANM. We had an exhibition of his work in 2011 (Year of the Rabbit: Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo), he presented a session at our 2013 National Conference in Seattle, and we sell many Usagi Yojimbo products in our Museum Store, including JANM exclusive items.

Here is a photo of Stan and Sharon in 2011 at our Gala Dinner that year—happier times!

 

Geta-pets!

geta-pets

Just had to mention these cool geta that only just arrived at the Museum Store.

Make tracks like a cat, monkey, or dinosaur with this ingenious take-off on traditional wooden geta. These are made from FSC Certified European beech and painted with non-toxic water-based paint.

Geta are usually worn slightly smaller than your foot in order to better maintain balance. We have them in two sizes so big people can help little ones as they make tracks.

But be quick! We have a limited supply in limited sizes! These are too special to last long! (Not available online due to limited sizing and availability.)

If you’re still looking for holiday gifts, the Museum Store will be open this weekend! We’ll be closed as usual on Monday, but for the real last minute gift shopping, we will be open on Christmas Eve. We’ll be closed Christmas Day.

Happy Holidays!

Shop Small Business MAD*ness! 11/30/13

Shop Small

American Express’ Shop Small Saturday is on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which happens to fall in the middle of our Member Appreciation Days (11/29, 11/30, 12/1).

This year if you are a current Museum Member AND and American Express card holder, you can potentially profit from shopping at our Museum Store on that Saturday. As with anything that sounds too good to be true, there are rules. But read this post carefully and you may come out ahead!

1.) You must REGISTER your AMEX card online at ShopSmall.com between 11/24 and 11/30. Only a limited number of registrations will be accepted, so act fast!

2.) Use your card and spend $10 or more in our physical Museum Store (online sales are not eligible) and American Express will give you a one-time $10 statement credit for that sale.

Caveats: Read the instructions carefully. You will only receive one $10 credit per AMEX card account, and ONLY if you register your card successfully. More information is available at ShopSmall.com

Member Appreciation Days

But think about it, if you are an eligible Museum Member, you will receive a 20% discount on your purchase* that day, and if your total is over $10 AND you make the purchase with your registered AMEX card, you will get a $10 from American Express to boot!! Shazam!

*20% discount applies to eligible merchandise only. Not applicable to sale items or memberships.

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November 2013 Member Appreciation Days postcard frontMember Appreciation Days
Friday – Sunday, November 29 – December 1, 2013

20% off at our award-winning Museum Store & janmstore.com + reciprocal FREE admission and 20% off store sales at 16 other SoCal institutions—including MOCA, California Science Center, Pacific Asia Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum, and more!

For more info & a complete list of participating institutions >>

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Not a current JANM member? If you have an AMEX card, you can still register to participate in their Shop Small Saturday offer to get your $10 credit.

Or…you can join/renew now to take advantage of the extra savings!

President Clyde Kusatsu!

Akemi Clyde BW lo-res

Congratulations to Clyde on his recent election to President of the Los Angeles Local SAG/AFTRA Chapter! (Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, doncha know.)

Clyde was in Farewell to Manzanar and is thereby on my radar forever! He played Akemi Kikumura Yano’s husband in the film, which is of course, available from the Museum Store!

 

 

Holiday MAD*ness coming up!

Before you get too caught up in Thanksgiving preparation, don’t forget that this weekend is Member Appreciation Days weekend.

If you are a current JANM member (and you must have your card to do this) you can visit 21 cultural institutions in Southern California and receive free admission and 20% discount in some of the most unique stores in town (and a couple in San Diego too, for those of you who are traveling!)

Member Appreciation Days participating institutions list >>

Check the list for details and exceptions (some places are not open all three days!) And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

JANM @ LAX!

Yesterday a colleague, on his way to install our Fighting for Democracy exhibition in Wisconsin, sent us this iPhone photo of the newly opened “That’s So LA” section at LAX.

We have been waiting (since July) for Hudson Group to open three LAX stores featuring product from local museums. We were picked, along with LACMA and the Peterson Automotive Museum to be part of a new series of stores at the Los Angeles International Airport that would feature a section called “That’s So LA!” It would represent products from local businesses that would serve as an introduction to the varied culture scene found in our fair city.

To tap the rich museum landscape here was a brilliant idea and we are very fortunate and honored to have been chosen to participate. And of course, being able to display and sell our award-winning DVDs and our mission statement to thousands of new eyeballs is priceless. The original plan was for a store in one terminal, but the idea caught on and is now being included in THREE. The terminals (unconfirmed) are supposed to be Terminal 8, 7, and 4.

Admittedly, the section is small at this point, and could use some display finessing. I’m thinking of booking a flight somewhere and doing a merchandising blitz in the store before I board my flight! (BTW–the stores are after the security check so you can’t just drop in and shop. For that you will have to come to the Museum!)

Courtyard Kaeru at LAX