Party People: Kathy Buell
Balloons by Night Moods
Balloons by Night Moods started out as Night Moods, a lingerie boutique that has slowly turned into a balloon store. They started doing balloon deliveries and learned how to do some fun new designs with balloons, and the balloons have taken over the store, although they still have a very small selection of lingerie and costumes.
Buell is one of only three CBAs in the state of Alaska and also hand crafts custom garters for weddings and promotions and makes custom pinatas and candy bouquets that she sells in the store.
1. What is the best retail advice you’ve received?
Never try to compete with the big box stores; you will lose every time. Find your niche and stay focused, but don’t be afraid of change and rolling with it. (Heaven knows my store has really changed over the years.) Listen to your customers because they will let you know what they need you to bring in, but don’t bring in the extremely rare item. It will sit on your shelf and collect dust. Also, know your product so you can answer questions about it.
2. What are your goals for the upcoming year?
My goals for the next 12 months are pretty simple. I want to expand my selection of on-hand balloons and expand my rental costume selection.
3. What are your biggest frustrations? How do you handle them?
My biggest frustration is dealing with the big box stores on balloon holidays because they sell their balloons below my costs. There is no way to compete, so I focus on the fact that I deliver and that I do so much more with my balloons than they will ever do. I know my product and I give awesome customer service.
The other is dealing with customers shopping online and then bringing in the balloons for me to inflate. I charge them the same as if they had bought the balloon in my store and I do not guarantee their balloons. If they pop while I am inflating them, they pay for it anyway. I am also expanding my selection to help deal with this problem.
4. How do you stay passionate about what you do?
This one is easy. Every day is something new — new events and happy customers. I am a very creative person and even when I am not at work I’m making something. I love to help my customers come up with ideas for their parties and help them take their parties to the next level with either decoration ideas, themes or even where to have it. I love my job.
5. If you had $10,000 to do whatever you wanted to your store/business, what renovations would you make?
Renovations, not including inventory. I would love to move where my heater is and put new flooring in the store. I would also add three lights to the ceiling where they aren’t and where they should be. (I don’t know what they were thinking when they did the lighting in the ceiling.) I would also have a nice professional sign for outside the store.
Do you know of a party person we should highlight? Send your suggestions to email@example.com and they could be featured in an upcoming issue!