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February 2011

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Party Line: Deep Breath

Party Line: Deep Breath

When I wrote this, it was just past Thanksgiving and I had Christmas music playing in the background. By the time you read this, it will be around Valentine's Day. Not long after the hearts and flower displays come down, it will be time for Mardi Gras and then Easter. It's almost enough to make your head spin in "Exorcist"-like fashion, which would be appropriate, considering this is our Halloween issue. Deep breath. While everyone knows it's absolutely necessary to plan ahead, that doesn't mean you have to let the stress negatively affect you. Yes, I know you're busy with Valentine's Day and probably thinking, "What is she talking about? Doesn't she know I have to have a million balloon bouquets done five minutes ago?" I know this, but trust me - deep breath. When things get stressful - too busy or not busy enough…  » Read more
Shop Talk: Special Events Alaska

Shop Talk: Special Events Alaska

Spotlight On: Wasilla, Alaska Where anything that's worth doing is done with excellence At Special Events Alaska, the goal is to help create events that are uniquely the customer's vision. From backdrops and ceiling draping to crystal-beaded entryways and corporate style lounges, they want customers to dream big and let them figure out the details - even if it sounds a bit unusual. "We have taken on some pretty crazy setups - tramming tents to a mountain top wedding site at a ski resort and barging an entire wedding setup across a lake to an otherwise inaccessible property, for example," said Owner Andrew Gumley. "But we want our wedding customers to know that we will do whatever it takes to make their special day seamless and memorable." If a banquet room needs a paint job, they can hide all unsightliness with fabrics, ceiling draping and…  » Read more
Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Emphasize modern trends while relying on old Halloween traditions One of my fondest childhood memories is staying up late and baking cookies with my dad. Even today, the smell of snickerdoodles will take me back years to my parent's kitchen, begging to taste the dough, rolling cookies in cinnamon and sugar and anxiously watching the oven. Memory can be a powerful thing for everyone, especially consumers. For instance, not many people can see doily hearts without thinking Valentine's Day. Candy canes equal Christmas at any time of year. And black and orange scream Halloween to nearly all of the population. The basic elements of every holiday have been drilled into the minds of consumers year after year. That's why retailers shouldn't bend over backward to reinvent Halloween. To get customers thinking about the spookiest time of the year, just stick with the basics and let…  » Read more
Bits and Pieces

Bits and Pieces

Create a costume, create extra sales Here's the scenario - a customer comes in looking for a costume they can wear to a few different parties, but they don't want to wear the same exact thing each time. Purchasing two separate outfits is not in the budget, so they enlist your help in putting a fun twist on the one that they buy. What do you do? Why, you work your retail magic and create a costume on the spot with the help of a few accessories, your creative prowess and items you already sell. DIY Dress-UpAs Kevin Johnson, CEO at elope, Inc. pointed out, costumes sales aren't relegated to the month of October. While Halloween is obviously the most popular time for costumes, there is a growing costume culture that involves dressing up many times throughout the year. "So many different cultures center around…  » Read more
Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

There is more to the fourth quarter than Halloween Thanksgiving can be the forgotten "middle child" between Halloween and Christmas, but don't miss this opportunity to add seasonal sales. As soon as party retailers are finished with the hustle and bustle of the Halloween season, Christmas selling is already in full swing. It's little wonder why Thanksgiving tends to be overlooked rather than promoted as the profitable partyware category that it can be. "Many mass-market retailers focus on Halloween and Christmas merchandise during this time of year, thus do not fully capitalize on sales opportunities that fall and Thanksgiving products offer," said Mollie Wenger, marketing coordinator at The Beistle Company. "This creates a real sales opportunity for party stores and other similar retailers. Even though consumer demand is not as large as it is for Halloween and Christmas merchandise, Thanksgiving can still generate substantial sales…  » Read more

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 AbrahamianParty PlanetSurprise, 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 SchwartzCreative Parties, Ltd.Bethesda, Md.If I could change on thing it would be that other retailers would stop…  » Read more