BYU MOA Store offers ‘soft and safe place’ for all

The BYU MOA Store is located in the Museum of Art, just inside the north entrance. The store offers a variety of items, from postcards to books to large prints of paintings. (Payton Pingree)

The BYU Museum of Art is regarded for its variety of popular exhibitions available to BYU students and visitors, free of charge. Located just inside the north entrance sits the MOA Store: a small gift shop selling artsy collectibles. 

Cheri Koford, store manager of the MOA Store since 2013, is in charge of everything from staffing to merchandising to marketing. 

Koford said the MOA Store serves as a “soft and safe place” to visit. “We don’t know what brings someone into the museum,” Koford said. “Do they need a break from their studies? Are they feeling troubled? Or are they meeting grandma for lunch?”

Whatever that reason may be, Koford strives to make the store a welcoming place for its guests and does what she can to make sure each person has a memorable experience while in the museum.

“It’s like the Disneyland for BYU,” Elisabeth Christensen, MOA Store cashier, said. “It allows you to be like a kid in a candy store with all the little trinkets we have, to art pieces about Jesus. It’s for everybody.”

The MOA Store’s Cavallini posters are their most popular item. The store sells many affordable pieces for college students. (Payton Pingree)

Koford said despite possible preconceived ideas, the MOA Store has many affordable items that students can purchase for themselves or as gifts for friends and family. 

The Cavallini posters are the store’s top-selling product. Printed with bright colors on high-quality paper, students can buy a poster featuring airplanes, cheese, travel stickers and more to decorate their rooms for just $4. 

The store has an eclectic assortment of postcards, for 50 cents, and notecards, for $1.50. Another popular item is the catstudio dish towels, featuring embroidered patterns from each of the 50 states. Koford said out-of-state students love buying these because they act as “a little piece of home.”

Caroline Guillot, MOA Store employee, said she feels the jazzy, retro music is what creates the special atmosphere. 

Employees of the store said the usual demographic of visitors consists less of students, and more of older individuals, families and those traveling from out of town. 

Store cashier Lauren Moss said she sees a range of guests — many students from other universities and even people who are visiting the MOA from out of the country because they want to enjoy a free art museum. 

The store sees the most traffic around the holidays, Education Week, Women’s Conference, New Student Orientations and graduation. Koford said they usually have a sale corresponding to each of these busy times of the year to accommodate the crowds. 

“We get a really diverse set of visitors. I would say one of the places on campus that has the most,” Koford said. “I think it’s a really great opportunity … where we get a lot of community members and extended community. It’s a special place to be.”

Christensen also mentioned the prevalence of diversity throughout the store. 

“It’s opened up a lot of doors for representation in art,” Christensen said. “It’s been so great for people of various ethnic backgrounds and different countries to come in and feel represented.”

The walls of a corner in the MOA Store are lined with a collection of greeting cards. Visitors of the BYU Museum of Art can make a stop at this gift shop to make a purchase or simply peruse the shelves of art-related products. (Payton Pingree)

Koford said this representation comes from the traveling exhibitions and pieces of art in the MOA that are reflected in the products sold in the store. 

“We have a Romare Bearden, he was an African American collagist,” Koford said. “On a campus that is very much the same, just by the nature of who we are, we really try to touch other parts of society. Right now, we have some children’s books that are done by African American authors that are really beautiful.”

What Moss described as a “happy sanctuary on campus” is a store where anyone can feel welcomed. 

“If we can be a little bit of an expression of the Savior’s love for everyone that comes in, that’s what we try to do,” Koford said.

The MOA Store is open Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays.

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