Party People: John Reid
Magic, Balloons and More
The Tricky Business Magic Shop
East Meadow, New York
John Reid is the president of the entertainment company Magic, Balloons and More, and the owner and operator of Epic Balloons and the Tricky Business Magic Shop. He is a magician and balloon artist and loves teaching and performing for kids and their families. The Long Island resident also has appeared at the President Barack Obama’s Fourth of July party and on Martha Stewart’s television show. He has been the lead instructor at Tannen’s Magic Camp for kids in New York the past 18 summers.
In April 2014 he set the world record for the largest balloon sculpture built by a single person. Using 4,302 balloons, Reid created Poptimus Prime, a 55-foot-tall robot modeled after Transformer Optimus Prime.
1. What is the best retail advice you’ve received?
I read an e-book on marketing where the author said that he always gives away his best book because if you like it, you’ll come back and buy another book from him. I have the same philosophy. I believe that if I give my best away, customers come back over and over again. That’s why I teach things in workshops instead of selling them. If I teach someone how to twist a balloon, guess who they are going to come to when it’s time to buy balloons?
2. What are your goals for 2015?
I want to continue to educate and learn from my community. If I continue to give them a place to come and share ideas, I can learn what their needs are and I can develop my business. Many years ago, I ran a toy store. Parents would bring their kids in to play and they would talk about the toys their kids loved. That’s how I learned what to buy.
3. What are your biggest frustrations? How do you handle them?
Online competition. I hate it when customers call and tell me, “I can buy that cheaper online.” I don’t focus on those customers. If they shop by price only, they are always going to keep looking somewhere else. I focus on service, not product. I don’t just sell things, I take time with customers.
4. How do you stay passionate about what you do?
This is going to sound cheesy, but it’s about more than money. It’s about a greater goal. Right now I’m working with a friend named Brian South on a project called Something. It’s a food-grade silicone-baking form in the shape of the word “something.” You know, Something for lunch — the sandwich; Something for punch — a floating ice sculpture. The list goes on and on. What’s the goal? We want to create 10 million smiles. Not a bad goal in life, right?
5. If you had $10,000 to do whatever you wanted to your business, what improvements would you make?
Right off the bat, it would be a better inventory control system. Right now, I can’t keep track of what we are selling, and so I end up buying stuff that sits on the shelves or not having what I need in stock at the right time. It took me three years to figure out that I need to order orange balloons in August if I want to be ready for Halloween!
I would also love to sink some serious money into marketing my business. But could I take a couple grand, go on vacation and come back recharged?
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