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National Shell Museum’s numbers up after busy season

By Staff | Apr 30, 2015

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum staff includes (L to R) front: Dorrie Hipschman, Katie Ball, Gretchen Falk, Priya Lehr, Pilar Holmgren, Melanie Moraga, Rebecca Mensch, Paul Brown. Back row: Heather Williams, Paul Gulbrandsen, Jose Leal, Tom Annesley and Pete Bender. BRIAN WIERIMA

With an influx of record number highs of guests visiting Sanibel through the first quarter of 2015, there were plenty of businesses and island attractions which have been reaping the benefits.

One such entity includes the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, which in the first quarter of the 2015 high-season (January through March), visitors were up six-percent (which includes groups) and memberships were up 14-percent from this same time last year.

Profits from the Museum’s store also were up, thanks to some top marketing by retail manager Gretchen Falk.

“Gretchen really makes good choices in the items she picks and she knows her audience well,” said National Shell Museum marketing and events manager Katie Ball. “We are also getting some good reviews (from customers), which is exciting.”

Ball said there was a more concentrated effort of getting the word out about the Museum on the island through advertisements in the local newspapers and have started tailoring their approach of what season it is, because it’s not just a high season anymore.

“We are being smarter in adjusting our approach based on our audience,” Ball said. “During the high season, we have a range of people from out of state or country. Now the season we are going into, we’ll focus more on our programming for Florida families or day trippers.”

The variety of programming the Shell Museum offers, also has been a reason for the big uptick in membership sales.

“People are compelled to be members because of one of our programs we offered,” Ball said. “People are getting emotionally invested because of our programing. Our membership director, Melanie Moraga, set a goal and we are being more tangible with our goals. Melanie was determined to increase our membership.”

The busy season also affected the number of volunteers needed, and there was a good staff on hand helping out guests at every turn.

Ball credits the volunteers and staff for the increased numbers and looks forward to even more momentum in numbers in the near future.

“I think it’s going to get better,” she said. “We have a really, really awesome staff and volunteer base. We are all looking towards how to appeal to the crowds and the people who are here.”

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is located at 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road. For more information, visit their website at www.shellmuseum.org.