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June 2012

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Party Line: Good Advice

Party Line: Good Advice

It's said the best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others, which makes this issue's Store Room question in which I asked about the best advice that you've received one extra piece to that puzzle. Many of the responses aren't exclusive to retail, but apply to life in general. That makes sense though, doesn't it? In order to get from Point A to Point B in any situation - be it in business or pleasure - you have to carry with you a certain amount of knowledge, both yours and that of others. The key is discerning what works best for you and taking from it what you will. Getting from one place to the next is also the focus of the "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" story. When it comes to theme parties, transportation has sped up…  » Read more
Shop Talk: R.E.A.D. Amusements

Shop Talk: R.E.A.D. Amusements

Spotlight On: Guilford, Conn. Where they rent fun - and just about everything else A stay-at-home mom looking to make some extra money, Eileen Petrillo, now president of R.E.A.D. Amusements in Guilford, Conn., started going out as "famous characters" to children's birthday parties. As she started making money, she began to collect and make rental costumes. The closest competition was about 40 minutes away, so she used one of the spare bedrooms in her home and started filling up racks and racks of costumes. Eventually this room became too crowded and her husband set up a make-shift "store" in their basement, which was their location for five years. Again, this area too became too crowded, so she took the plunge in October of 1992 and rented a one month rental in her town. After having some success, she decided to try her luck full time…  » Read more
Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Rev up those engines for theme party sales There are many farm equipment manufacturers out there, but chances are if you asked someone to name a farm tractor in a major city, the most common answer would be John Deere. The popularity of these iconic green tractors has grown over the years and plowed its way into the party industry, as John Deere tractor parties are popping up all over the country. "This product theme is definitely more popular in the Midwest and more rural areas, but you would be surprised at how popular these items are in urban areas as well," said David Jamroziak of BuySeasons Inc., holder of the John Deere party license. "I think loyalty to the John Deere brand starts young for many people, much like an allegiance to a sports team, so it truly becomes a life-long thing. Plus, tractors…  » Read more
Happy Merry Holidays

Happy Merry Holidays

A mixture of tradition and trends will keep retail bells ringing Do you say "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas"? Display religious icons or Santa? What's appropriate has evolved over the past seasons, and with the ever-growing melting pot of cultural and religious beliefs, it can be confusing for retailers to predict exactly what will sell when it comes to winter holidays. Each store and location will have their own selection depending on their customer base, but a mixture of tradition and trendy is one sure way to keep those register bells jingling throughout the winter season. At Party Time in Horseheads, N.Y, they have partnered up with a local photographer and set up their entranceway with Santa to offer pictures taken right there at the store, but they make sure to address both sides of the holiday spectrum. "As an independent store I carry an…  » Read more
‘Wear’ It’s At

‘Wear’ It’s At

Wearables continue to bring in year-round sales No matter what the season or occasion, there seems to be an increasing demand for items that can be worn in connection with the occasion. This makes sense, as although paper goods such as plates, napkins, utensils and decorations are the mainstay of the party industry, many of the occasions and holidays that we celebrate are not done in the home. It is far more often that a bachelorette party occurs in a club or restaurant/bar than in a private home. We also note there is a trend to have the parties on the road, such as destination locations like Las Vegas. Who could argue that most celebrating of Mardi Gras and St Patrick's Day happens in the streets or bar? And pub crawls in which people dress like Santa or other characters also are enjoying more popularity.…  » Read more
A Golden Anniversary

A Golden Anniversary

Unique Industries celebrates 50 years in business If you've ever seen a SpongeBob SquarePants piñata or a "Barney" birthday plate, then you're familiar with Unique Industries, a leading manufacturer and distributor of party supplies that's celebrating 50 years in business in 2012. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Unique now operates offices and warehouses in seven different locations across North America, Europe and East Asia, and sells millions of pieces of party items each year. In the BeginningIt all started in 1961 when Camden New Jersey native Eb Novak founded Unique Industries with a small business loan and a 1,500 square foot rented warehouse out of which he sold a few imported party items to local distributors. At that time, the party industry was small, but there was a consumer demand for Eb's items - children's donkey games, a few party favors, plastic cutlery and straws. Novak was…  » Read more

Internet Marketing for Stores

Skills required for successful e-commerce differ from traditional retail As an operator of several party supply oriented e-commerce websites, the most common question I get asked is "How can I make my website work better?" While many retailers have visions of trying to launch an e-commerce store, I caution them that the type of skill sets required to succeed in e-commerce are very different than they are for brick and mortar, and without a real commitment of time, money, education and technology, they run the risk of damaging their business by losing focus on the most valuable thing they have - the ability to serve customers live and in person. What most retailers ignore is the advertising opportunity available to their business by building a simple and useful website that highlights the products and services they offer, and then making sure it's found when people…  » Read more

The Store Room: What do you wish you had known?

Our monthly column is devoted to what works and what doesn't - for our readers, from our readers "What do you wish someone would have told you before you started working inthis industry?" Sheryl ObermanStationery Station Highland Park, Ill.I wish I could relate my message to more business owners that customer service is not just a word. It truly means walking your customer through every step of their order or even just spending a few additional minutes on a simple sale. Successful retailers know that it means taking calls and actually asking what the customer needs, opening your door after hours and so much more. We are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year with events running for 35 days. What fun! Brenda FinkParty MagicGodfrey, Ill. I wish I would have know years earlier how fun and fulfilling it would be. Other than that, I wish…  » Read more