In this week's print edition of IBJ, reporter Kathleen McLaughlin writes about the efforts to convert White River State Park visitors and canal walkers into museum visitors. (The story is available to subscribers here.)
She reports that, while the park is becoming more popular, the Eiteljorg, the State Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions and the Indiana History Center aren't having much success in turning its visitors into ticket buyers. The Eiteljorg, for one, will be addressing the issue by enhancing its canal-side entrance.
The article also brings up the lack of retail and restaurants along the canal.
To me, those two matters come together to raise a question: Wouldn't it enhance both the canal-strolling experience and the institutions' bottom lines if they positioned their gift shops--or created additional retail options--at their canal entrances? I understand free-standing retail being cautious about locating on the canal, but these institutions already exist--and they already have the goods.
A family out for a recreational day at the park might not want to plop down money for museum admission. But I'd think they'd consider wandering into an interesting shop (and our museum shops are among the most interesting in the city).
Of course, once someone has visited (and spent money at) a museum's shop, I'd think that person would be more likely to pay a visit to the actual institution at a later time.
Your thoughts? What are some practical things that the canal museums and attractions can do to get more patrons through their doors?