Retailers say Mardi Gras is a growing party trend

Whether it’s Mardi Gras or masquerade, demand for the theme is growing

By Zeke Jennings |

The color combination. The masks. The beads. The boas.

Mardi Gras’ look is unmistakable, although what customers often refer to as Mardi Gras these days — especially when it comes to masks — has traditionally been called masquerade. No matter the terminology, demand for the theme has grown beyond being relegated to early spring. 

Party & Paper Retailer asked several retailers how their Mardi Gras sales have been in recent years and what other celebrations customers seem to be using them for.

Natalie Peterson, owner, Party Mart, Canada: “Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) does well in our stores. It is a good year-round theme as well. Masks are a GREAT seller and wonderful blind price item. Boas and beads are staple items to sell-out as well. Décor and tableware are a little softer, but we do sell-out of some of those items. We have seen a good increase in this category over the past few years. More gala events as well seem to be using a masquerade theme — all good news for businesses.” Note: There are three Party Mart locations in greater Ottawa, Canada

Nancy Simmers, owner, Party Central, Decatur, Alabama: “Our city has started having a Mardi Gras parade every year and this has been a game-changer for us. Before that I could not give Mardi Gras away; now I can’t stock enough of it. Without a doubt, wearables are the number 1-selling category, and within the category masks are number 1. With the parade I now sell a lot of float decorations but not as many as I would like because this is a small town and no one wants anyone else to know their theme for the float. The Mardi Gras parade has been so successful that the city is now considering a zombie walk with a Halloween parade following.”  

Mary Vander Laan, owner, Party Papers & Costumes, Anoka, Minnesota: “The profitable development for retailers is not that there is more demand for Mardi Gras sales. A misnomer is driving the demand for masquerade masks. Surprisingly, the customers have redefined Masquerade as Mardi Gras. Years back, as of the beginning of Lent, no one was interested in Mardi Gras. Now, celebrations including masks, decorations, tableware, beads and coins are year-round. Weddings, proms, showers and bachelorette parties frequently ask guests to wear Mardi Gras masks when indeed they simply mean masquerade. … Some of the best suppliers are Bauer Pacific, Forum (Novelties) and a mask design company operated by Deter Hees (Hees Designs). It is delightful to show customers an array of these beautiful creations for both men and women, and to see brisk sales of these masks at any time of year.”

Nancy Bauman, marketing director, Wally’s Party Factory stores: “Internally, we refer to the Mardi Gras category as Masquerade because we sell masks, beads and decorations all year-round. Mardi Gras is an evergreen theme that is, of course, popular with our customers during carnival time. But they also love it for graduation parties, project graduation events, company events and school ‘theme days,’ to just name a few. It is a year-round department in our stores. Also, our 'Mardi Gras 101: How to Build a Parade Float' blog post is one of our top re-pinned pins on Pinterest.” Note: Wally’s Party Factory has 27 locations in Texas and Oklahoma

Christina Burns, assistant buyer, Wally’s Party Factory stores: “Masks, and then beads (both deluxe and bulk) drive our Mardi Gras business. We add new styles of both every year. I don’t see any changes in the trends or customer needs that suggest that any new product categories are going to be meaningful. But we are always looking for something new. A few of our stores have requested Mardi Gras costumes, so we may try a few SKUs and see how they do.”

Originally posted Monday, Oct. 3, 2016

Tags: fat tuesday, mardi gras