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The Store Room: If I could change one thing…

Our monthly column is devoted to what works and what doesn't - for our readers, from our readers

"If I could change one thing about the party industry, it would be ... "

Lee Abrahamian
Party Planet
Surprise, Ariz.

What really needs to change is how vendors charge their customers. How is an independent store (even though a part of a party buying group) supposed to compete when certain suppliers will sell Walmart and other chains things at half of what we buy them for? Walmart actually sells some items for less than we buy it for. I understand the concept of "volume buying," but if a supplier can sell Walmart an item for $1, they should not turn around and sell it for $2 to everybody else.

Tracy Bloom Schwartz
Creative Parties, Ltd.
Bethesda, Md.
If I could change on thing it would be that other retailers would stop discounting!

Barb Teegarden
Special Occasions
Bryan, Ohio
I don't mind buying party patterns in dozens of an item on the initial order, but I would love it if reorders were in half dozens. When I'm down to four of an item, I would be happy to order six more. Ordering 12 more can put stock levels too high in mid season or at the end of the year.

Linda Crawford
Confetti Party Headquarters
Chico, Calif.
I wish we could sell products made only in the U.S. I wish it was cost effective to manufacture items here and that the cost to the end user was competitive. As we all know, so much of what our industry sells now comes from China. When I started 26 years ago, almost everything we sold was made here in the U.S. It's tough because our customers do want things "made in America," but they want prices to be "made in China."

Rob Jamieson
Everyday's A Party
Uniontown, Pa.
E-X-C-L-U-S-I-V-I-T-Y
It would be tremendous to have exclusive party items that people can only buy from a specialty party store as opposed to dollar stores or the big retail discount boxes. I know it is unrealistic to think this, but how big would it be for the party stores to have the exclusive rights to all licensed party ware?

Anonymous
I would take Halloween back out of the clutches of the "adult entertainment" industry.

Deidra Butler
Balloonmania
La Habra, Calif.
I wish vendors, especially balloon vendors, would understand the importance of pricing and job costing and in return appreciate the value of balloons and the festive ambiance these products bring to any event. This is why it's important to educate yourself on all aspects of conducting your business. With a new year starting, it's a great time to brush up on the things that will make our businesses more profitable. The parties will be more memorable.

Mariah McKechnie
Party America
Duluth, Minn.
The Christmas Season! We need something new and refreshing to sell to our customers that they can't get everywhere else.


Donna Hudson
The One-Stop Costume & Party Shop
Rolla, Mo.
Exclusive party designs for small party stores only. We are designers and deserve exclusive designs, don't you think?

Brenda Fink
Party Magic
Godfrey, Ill.
If I could change one thing it would be to separate the companies that have merged. I also do not think it is proper or fair to be a supplier and a competitor. There are enough Walmarts putting the small business out of business without party suppliers doing the same.

JoAnn Fox
Party Time
Baton Rouge, La.
I wish that Halloween wasn't such a "bear". You are constantly thinking of ways to make Halloween more manageable. This is from merchandise to store logistics to employees.

Tammy Hiller
Party Town
Chico, Calif.
If I could change something, it would be that a license couldn't be exclusive to only one distributor. I have demand for the Lego and Mario Brothers pattern, but they are exclusive to Birthday Express (a mail and on-line company). It is frustrating that we can't provide to our customers.

Janet Hayton
Longs' Cards and Books
PennYan, N.Y.
Make suppliers charge the same cost to everyone so the "little guy" can discount like the "big boys." It makes it hard to compete in price.

Barbara Rozema
Party Plus Inc.
Redlands, Calif.
First, I would change the 50 percent off all patterns promotions - particularly seasonal patterns. Why discount your holiday patterns at the beginning of the holiday selling season?

I would also stop the constant change of the licensed product patterns that results in out-of-date stock too quickly.

Ann Carnaby
Tracy Theatre Originals
Hampton, N.H.
I'm not in the party industry, but I do sell some items that are common to you and to my industry, which is theatrical costumes. If I could change one thing it would be to eliminate the "sexy" costumes. I'd like to eliminate them all, but especially the ones for little girls.

There is no reason to give children sexy stuff. It's degrading enough for grown women, but what does it say to others if you put an 8 year old in a sexy nurse costume?

I'm surely no prude, but many of these kids' costumes are simply inappropriate.

Denise Hagopian
Heavenly Choice
Montebello, Calif.
I would change how creative ideas are stolen. It is really sad to have seen the original concept and then see the radically changed cheap China versions. It is not fair to the designers and companies that spend time doing design and research.

Importers who come into my store with cameras are asked to please leave. What nerve coming in with cameras pretending they are shopping for gifts when they are stealing my ideas! They should at least offer me a consulting job and pay for stylizing and updating their line.

Ken Ahroni
Lucky Break Wishbone Corp.
Seattle
I would put Thanksgiving and related products more on buyer's radar. It seems to be just a filler between Halloween and Christmas for most buyers.

Gregg Fresonke
Hollywood Ribbon Industries
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Buy Domestic.
Buying in Asia at the lowest cost sacrifices product quality, convenience, and support of the American economy.

Pat Schwerman
PartyWorks
Huntsville, Ala.
When Amscan bought out Party City, I think the entire industry changed. Amscan has great product, but I'm very hesitant to carry it since it is so easily available at a cheaper price at Party City. I'm a small independent party store and I like it that way. I still carry Amscan products, but much less than I did previously. It's like they are a company store.
I only hope this trend does not continue with other party product manufacturers buying out large chains.

Kathi Leiden
Zephyr Solutions
Avon Lake, Ohio
If I could change one thing about the party industry, it would be that everyone join together to promote the "Bring Balloons" slogan and spread the word that September is International Balloon Month. This would increase balloon sales and balloon deliveries, create opportunities for decorators, twisters, entertainers and event planners. It would be a business booster at ever level of the industry!

 

Originally posted Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011