The Store Room: Party Industry ‘Flashback’ Moment
Our monthly column is devoted to what works and what doesn’t — for our readers, from our readers
Q. “What is one party industry ‘flashback’ moment that sticks out in your memory?”
There are three decisions I’ve made in the past 23 years that have had the biggest impact on my business. First, adding invitation printing in-house has been my most profitable decision. Second would be balloons. Although there were two balloon specialty stores in Huntsville already, I decided in order to become a “complete” party store balloons were a must. We now sell about 1,000 balloons per week!
The third best decision was my hot stamp machine. Not only do we print tons of napkins and stationery, but we sell the product we print — a double good sale. No wonder I love this business; never a dull moment.
Fun Party and Wedding Services
When Webkinz were all the rage, we had a list of more than 100 kids to call, telling them we finally had them in. It was cute to get all those calls from little shoppers asking for a specific pet.
Our busiest day was Dec. 31, 1999. That day was by far the greatest single day of sales other than Halloween. People really wanted to kick off the new millennium with a bang and customers truly went all out.
Simply Unforgetable Party Shop
I have been in business for 18 years and one of the events that sticks out for me was New Years 2000. This by far was the best retail New Years season I’ve ever had, not to mention the decorating jobs that I did.
In Ocala at the time, the two locations that were the “hottest” were the Hilton of Ocala and the Ocala Country Club, and both of these venues hired me to decorate their events. The Hilton had me do their lobby, hallway, pre-function area and ballroom. I set up sculptures and arches in the lobby and hallway, including a 7-foot champagne bottle with an arch of bubbles spilling into a 4-foot champagne glass and a balloon wall with “New Years 2000” on it for a picture location.
The pre-function area was decorated with gossamer and lights and the ballroom was done on the theme of the excitement of New York and the romance of Paris. The ends of the ballroom were done in lighted skylines of New York and Paris, I did topiary centerpieces lit with candles and a very unusual midnight balloon drop that took more than 5,000 balloons to decorate!
I was at the Hilton to control the special balloon drop at midnight and the entire room gasped in unison as the ceiling opened up into a shower of balloons. It was great! I have done a lot of events and sculptures in my day, but for a once-in-a-lifetime event, this was by far my best work.
My party industry flash back happened just a couple months ago. We’ve been under staffed for the longest time. Most people who apply speak in double negatives and have never held a job for more than five months, but they all think they’re fabulous. Each time I hire a person I think is going to be fantastic, they either don’t show up, show up late, go to lunch and don’t come back, never take our deposit to the bank, tell a customer we don’t have something when we really do, etc.
When you experience this time after time it makes you question why you were crazy enough to open a retail store where your financial future is in the hands of so many people who will never care as much as you care, if they even care at all. Then came our May issue of Party & Paper, and guess who the featured store was? My store, Party Palace! I read the story, looked at the photos and became quite proud of all I’d accomplished over the last 12 years, despite all of the “bumps” along the way.
I felt famous and when I read my words, “If I had to do it all over again, I still would have opened my store and pursued my dream, because there is nothing like making a living doing something you love,” I felt renewed and ready for another 12 years. Well, maybe seven or eight…