Tammy Corzine is the owner and lead designer at Celebrations and has been working in the balloon and special event industry since 1990. In 1994, she started her own home-based decorating business and in 2004 made the move to a storefront and expanded into retail balloons and party supplies. Since then her business has continued to thrive and has grown to include a move in 2009 to a 6,100-square-foot store that offers an extensive selection of party supplies, balloons and decorations for nearly any event or party.
1. What is the best retail advice you’ve received?
Listen to your customers! It’s so difficult to predict what products will be a hit or miss. Just because you may love a certain product doesn't mean your customers will, and they are the ones you need to buy for. A good sales rep is a great resource for products that are selling well or will fit into your mix, but they don't know your customers the way you do.
2. What are your goals for 2014?
We are continually reinventing our business. In 2014, we plan to decrease our non-balloon event décor services and greatly reduce our wedding accessories to make more room for our balloon department, including a larger more efficient order counter and work area. This will also allow us to concentrate more on the retail side of our business.
We also plan to expand our bakery supplies with more cake/cupcake decorating items, and our whole store will be getting a makeover with better gondola/shelving, lighting and signage.
3. What are your biggest retail frustrations?
Our biggest frustrations have to be online stores and the preconceived idea that just because our store is in a small town, the prices will be high and the selection will be limited. Customers are shocked at how competitive our prices are and how large our selection is. We always encourage customers to “tell a friend” because word of mouth is truly the best advertising.
We have also won over several online shoppers when they rush in at the last minute because their order didn't arrive in time, and they often say they should have just come here first.
Customers bringing their own balloons in to be inflated is also becoming a problem. With the price increase and decreased availability of helium, the dollar stores and super markets are no longer offering helium inflation, so we are seeing an increase in customers bringing substandard quality balloons in to be inflated. The balloons are more difficult to tie and we don't want these less attractive, lower quality balloons going out of our store. We recently decided to charge the same price as if they bought the balloons from us, and now unless they have a specific design we don't carry, most customers will opt to use our balloons instead.
4. How do you stay passionate about what you do?
I try really hard to have one day a week that I do nothing business related to help prevent burnout. I also actively participate in several online forums and groups that help with problem solving and keep the creative juices flowing. Interacting with like-minded people also keeps the spark alive, so I attend as many conventions, seminars and trade shows as I can. I am fortunate to have many friends in the industry and always feel energized about my business after connecting with them.
5. If you had $10,000 to do whatever you wanted to your store, what renovations would you make?
The building our store occupies is very nondescript with poor exterior lighting and signage. So my first focus would be improving the customer's first impression with a more colorful exterior along with better lighting and signage. My second focus would be to install a drop ceiling and new lighting for the interior. Lighting is so important in a retail setting and can completely transform the look and feel of a space.
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