Peer Perspective: Diane Delorier, Carolina Party
Owner, Carolina Party Inc.
Swansboro, North Carolina
Diane Delorier opened Carolina Party in 2001. Over the past 15 years, she’s become a seasoned and savvy party storeowner and buyer. One of her biggest pieces of advice for fellow retailers: Think about exactly why the world needs your business.
How were your Halloween sales in 2016?
Our Halloween was not as great as last year. I was very satisfied with our numbers in 2015. Our store is in eastern North Carolina and this year we had to contend early on in October with Hurricane Matthew. … Due to the storm, our store did close for a couple of days, which was unfortunately part of a Friday and a Saturday. That same weekend we also we missed out on our local Mullet Festival traffic as the festival was canceled. Another thing that affected sales to me was the political environment leading up to the presidential election. … I am happy with what I spent, what merchandise I purchased, my advertising strategy and our planning leading up to the season. I wouldn’t have done anything different but our numbers were down year over year. I am not certainly going to blame the day of the week (Monday), as one of our best Halloweens by thousands was on a Monday several years back, the days before three temporary shops showed up in our area.
What are some of the biggest industry-wide changes since when you opened in 2001?
We can thank Amazon prime and Pinterest for a significant change in customers’ buying habits. “I want exactly this and want it exactly this way and in this exact color, etc., and I want it now!” Customers’ expectations have changed. Many of our suppliers have a low reorder minimum so we do not need a large order to get an order. I reorder regularly. You can’t be out of anything. I am only out of something if it is out at the manufacturer. A store’s shelves have to be stocked, otherwise your customer will just shop online or buy it elsewhere. Most people think their retail business is not appreciated. I believe a retail staff needs to greet everyone and thank every one for their business every time.
Where do you look for merchandising and display ideas?
Most of my merchandising ideas have come from looking at other stores. I believe in visiting your competition and other retail businesses and getting ideas from what you see, what is visually appealing. I wish we had more space to even better merchandise what we have to offer. I just think you have to make every bit of space count.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of opening a retail business?
There are so many ways to answer this question, but “Why does the world need my business to open?” “Do I have a clue what I am getting into?” “How much am I willing to sacrifice to have my business be successful?” Lastly, location, location, location.