Smithsonian Gift Shops: “Those Crystal Gardens Ain’t Gonna Buy Themselves, You Know”

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Are you the type of person who, over the weekend, thinks to yourself, “I could do some shopping. I wonder if there’s anything new at the museum gift shop?” If you aren’t, the Smithsonian really wish you’d change. So says an interesting story that popped up on American Public Media‘s Marketplace yesterday, saying that the gift shops in this famous string of museums aren’t making any money due to things like poor placement, bad displays and lack of stock. It’s so dire, they’ve now even decided to take bids from companies who would be willing to run them.

But since the museums are funded largely by tax dollars, Congress cares how the shops perform. Here’s Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa:

Sen. Charles Grassley: Money’s fungible so a dollar wasted in the business venture is a dollar of money that’s going to have to be made up by the taxpayers.