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December 2012

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Party Line: Making Spirits Bright

Party Line: Making Spirits Bright

Now that you’ve (hopefully) recovered from fall festivities filled with food and family, it’s time to put away the turkeys and bring out the reindeer, as the holiday season is here. While most retailers put healthy sales at the top of their wish lists, it’s usually anyone’s guess as to what shoppers will do with their cash. However, the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2012 holiday forecast predicts that holiday sales this year will increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion. This is higher than the 10-year-average holiday sales increase of 3.5 percent, and actual holiday sales in 2011 grew 5.6 percent. “This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year and overall we…  » Read more
Shop Talk: Akron Design & Costume

Shop Talk: Akron Design & Costume

Spotlight On: Akron, Ohio Where creativity and service are always in style When you have more than 40,000 SKUs, you need a place to store your stock. How about a bowling alley?While Akron Design & Costume in Akron, Ohio, originally was located in the basement of the owner Deborah Meredith’s home, it has since become an 18,000-square-foot year-round costume, theater and party store in a building that was previously the aforementioned bowling alley. Back in 1980, Meredith, who also serves as the 1st vice president of the National Costumers Association, designed, hand made and sewed hundreds of costumes and rented them to local Akron customers during the month of October. As her inventory grew, so did her business. “My creativity and deluxe costumes took off when I rented more than 500 costumes from a box in the basement of my home during a busy Halloween…  » Read more
Looking Up to 2013

Looking Up to 2013

Tints, twists and trends for the year ahead The past year in the party industry has seen its share of ups — superheroes flying up, up and away off the shelves — and downs — a helium situation deflating the spirits of many. But through it all, retailers have persevered and are all the stronger for it. Looking ahead to 2013, we can expect a bit of the same with a few new tints and twists thrown in and hopefully more ups than downs. Seeing The colors this year will be bright, with lime green, hot pink, teal, yellow and red continuing in popularity. According to Dawn Kirschner of Unique, orange and purple are no longer just accent colors, but colors making a statement.  “When it comes to design, dots and stripes are also becoming primary elements,” Kirschner said. “They’re being used in borders, backgrounds,…  » Read more
Lucky 2013

Lucky 2013

Fill the air with balloons (filled with air) The helium situation might have brought some spirits down, but rest assured, balloons are still looking up. Customers want their fun and décor, and retailers have simply found new and creative ways to deliver. In fact, Lisa Bennett of Pioneer said that one of the emerging themes for 2013 is celebrating fun. And what better way to do that than with balloons! “Create a sense of fun with color using the popular ‘brights’ (citrus palettes) that will remain strong throughout the year,” Bennett said. “Special event designs will follow themes from retro to contemporary, but stay light and bring a sense of excitement and whimsy to the occasion. Also look for the traditional metallic and holographic items to shift away from standard metals and be mixed with color to create a playful iridescence.” Bennett said the tropics…  » Read more

Stories Sell Product

Provide memories, not just product A recent edition of the Australian e-newsletter included an article on American retailer American Girl. I have made a note for myself that when I am next in Chicago, this is a must-visit shop for me. This is not because I have a fetish for dolls, but because American Girl understands their market and modern retailing. Dolls, like many products, are now available online, but this company encourages its customers to walk into the store and spend at least $99 on a doll and they keep coming back to spend more. How do they do it and what can we learn from this experience? The company was started as a mail order company more than 25 years ago. At that time, Pleasant Rowland created a doll that could be dressed in period costumes to help girls understand history. The concept…  » Read more

The Store Room: What “retail resolutions do you have for 2013?”

Our monthly column is devoted to what works and what doesn’t — for our readers, from our readers “If you could have three ‘retail resolutions’ for the new year, what would they be?" Debbie Pizzuto Balloon Break Lansing, Ill. 1.  To show my work on Facebook every week. 2.  De-clutter my back room and keep it that way. 3.  Change my window more often. Jeanine Morrison PARTY PLUS Elizabethtown, Ky. 1. Get my website up and running. It’s been in the works for a couple of years now.  2. Really get out there to promote my store and myself. I have never been much on going out and “selling,” but I’m trying to get better. 3. Keep the store neater. We do a lot of personalized items like banners, T-shirts, signs, napkins, edible cake pictures etc. along with rentals and our receiving area is up…  » Read more