Party People: Victoria Champion, Champion Party Supply
Victoria Champion’s business mentality is fitting of her last name, as she is tough, energetic and willing to take chances to be successful. That includes moving the family business to a new location earlier this year.
1. How did you get into the party business?
When I was born. My grandfather first opened Champion’s in 1936 as a sign-making and retail display business in the Pike Place Market — to this day the building we were in is still named the Champion building because of it’s historical significance. … When my father took over in the ‘70s, he expanded our party and costume offerings and eventually the Champion’s that I was born into was realized. We eventually purchased a building on Denny Way near the Space Needle to house the newer and bigger Champion Party Supply and to help offset the cost, we actually lived in the office space for the building. My first memories of life took place in the store; I would help bag during Halloween with the help of a step stool, give advice to parents on what party favors to buy for their kid’s party and use the costume room as my own personal dress-up closet. As I got older, Champion’s served as my college job and the industry stuck with me. I moved up from sales associate to assistant manager and then to general manager over the course of six years. In March 2015, I purchased the company from my father to take Champion’s into the next generation with a new owner, new attitude and a new space. In September of this year in response to redevelopment plans of the building Champion’s had called home for 22 years, I moved the store to a new location on Elliott AVE W in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle, just 1.4 miles from our old location.
2. How do you stay passionate about what you do?
The legacy that follows my family’s business is a constant motivator to ensure that Champion’s survives and thrives during a major relocation in a high-paced evolving city. A lot of small businesses have perished due to redevelopment plans in Seattle and because we have been in the city for so long and have rolled up our sleeves to keep the store alive and relocate we have an overwhelming amount of support from our city. Since announcing our move, we were featured on three local news TV stations, had two articles written about us in the Puget Sound Business Journal, had an article in the Queen Anne Magnolia News, and were featured on the front page of the Seattle Times. My employees, my customers and my city are all rooting for me, and that gives me the passion necessary to see this business through.
3. What is the biggest challenge for your business?
Besides the obvious relocation challenge, staying relevant in an increasing digital retail presence age is our biggest hurdle. Amazon is based out of Seattle, and with it has brought tech-minded individuals who are new to this city and may not know who we are, has transformed the way Americans shop and spend their money, and has really changed expectations of what brick-and-mortar retailers should be providing compared to what online retailers are providing. To combat this, we strive to be the best at what we do. We can't compete with Amazon prices or their inventory, so instead we provide excellent service, have fully stocked inventory of popular merchandise for all party types and costume needs, and keep our prices competitive enough to show the value in shopping local and receiving product in the moment rather than shopping online and waiting. In addition, we focus a lot on local media, participating in local events, and social media to keep our name present and known in our ever-changing city.
4. What are your goals for 2016?
For us to complete all of my planned improvements to our new space for Champion’s to realize it's full potential in our new location. I'll be creating a new and more inviting store-front, get new windows for display, a new eye-catching awning, and will decrease my storage area and expand my retail area to have more product out year-round. I also hope to gain new corporate accounts to cater to corporate events on a larger scale then just retail.