Party People: Ani Myers
Ani’s Party Shop
Originally a cultural South Pacific Island dance performer, Ani Myers met her husband, an American lecturing at a university, and eventually moved to central California where she got her first retail job at Mervyn’s Department Store. However, after moving to Australia when her husband was transferred for work, they returned home to Fiji due to family issues.
Wages for retail in Fiji are quite low (about $2/hour), and they knew they needed to open their own retail business if they were to make any money. They spent well over a year working with several major distributors and worked out arrangements primarily with Creative Converting, Biscay Greeting Cards (Australia), Wilton and, most recently Amscan. It then took nine months to locate and complete the lease and open the store (February 2013) and another three months for their first major shipment to arrive.
What is the best retail advice you’ve received?
Creative Converting’s International Manager, Dan Morris, told us that the party business is a fashion business with females representing 95 percent of the business and that we need to carry the licensed product lines and have an online retail presence. Out of nearly 9,000 likes on our Facebook, nearly 95 percent are in fact female. Due to licensing issues, it took nearly a year for Amscan to get approval to export Disney and Marvel products to Fiji, but these new licensed items are going quite well in our store.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
We’re developing our online retail store and we will expand product lines and take orders from throughout the South Pacific. This is necessary, as our brick-and-mortar store is quite small at 60 square meters (196 square feet), and we don’t have sufficient room for all the product lines we’d like to carry.
What are your biggest frustrations?
The biggest issue is getting stock. It takes our freight two to four months to arrive, so we have to carry a lot of backstock, but at same time we lose some sales as we can’t get a large quantity in short time needed. Fiji’s has high import taxes, so some of our prices or two to three times more than if bought in the U.S., so some people in Fiji will have the items shipped over from the U.S. or even online from China and as personal shipments under the dollar threshold they don’t have to pay all those taxes. This creates an unfair situation for merchants such as ourselves.
How do you stay passionate about what you do?
In Fiji, we are proudly the first and are definitely the only one that carries quality fashionable and current items. We also have the largest selection of greeting cards and balloons (both latex and foils). In fact, when we opened no one was selling the foils in Fiji, and that has been a large part of our business, even considering that helium is three to four times more expensive than in the U.S. and Australia.
If you had $10,000 to do whatever you wanted to your store/business, what renovations would you make?
I’d go back and replace some of our display fixtures. To save on money, our original slatwall panels came with large space between rows that we didn’t think would be an issue. Turns out, we should have gone with slatwall with most rows or even pegboard. We have already changed out several boards and need to do the rest of the store to reduce empty space and increase display area by 15 to 20 percent.
Do you know of a party person we should highlight? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and they could be featured in an upcoming issue!