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October 2011

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Party Line: Make Your Presence Known

Party Line: Make Your Presence Known

When writing features for this magazine, I enjoy adding in the experiences and expertise of retailers. Feedback tells us that you like hearing what your peers are doing, and it only makes sense that the best tips would come from those who are in the stores every day. However, I know retailers are busy, and it's rare that my requests for communication via email, phone, Facebook and Twitter are actually answered. So what do I do? I head online and start doing some searches. What do I find? Internet retailers, with the first brick-and-mortar store not appearing until the fourth or fifth page of search results. While Internet retailers serve as a convenient resource for shoppers, they don't help someone looking for brick-and-mortar stores to contact, and they don't help the stores themselves (or editors looking to feature these stores.) It's frustrating, to say the…  » Read more
Shop Talk: Charleston Balloon Co.

Shop Talk: Charleston Balloon Co.

When one door closes, another one opens Sometimes it takes closing a store to open up a world of new possibilities, as was the case for Jill and Scott Shortreed of Charleston Balloon Co. in Mount Pleasant, S.C. What originally started as a retail party store in New Jersey evolved into a professional and fully insured balloon design, décor and delivery company that has landed jobs for everything from the Susan G. Komen Race for Cure and birthday parties for Jon Bon Jovi's kids to corporate décor for Burger King and Verizon. "Some people think we are not a real business," Jill said. "They find it hard to believe that you can make a living and pay your bills with balloons." But they've been doing just that since 1997, designing creative and affordable balloon and event décor for weddings, social, civic and corporate events, as…  » Read more
The Complete Package

The Complete Package

Elevate an ordinary birthday to an extraordinary sale Decorations are a party staple, but there's nothing like getting a birthday card in the mail or digging through the tissue paper of a gift bag to find just what might be inside. In this age of electronic communication, knowing that someone took the time to put together the complete package adds to the specialness of the day. As retailers, you have the opportunity to help customers create that complete birthday package for the guest of honor - from the card to the gift wrap - elevating a birthday from "just another day" to something so much more. Signed, Sealed, DeliveredThe complete birthday package starts with a card. While birthday cards can often be overlooked in party stores, they're the easiest way to not only share a sentiment, but also increase sales. "About 60 percent of everyday…  » Read more
Mardi Gras New Orleans Style

Mardi Gras New Orleans Style

Go to the source for creative ideas As Amy Teal O'Hara, manager of New Orleans Party and Costume can attest, Mardi Gras is a magical time, especially in New Orleans. "Elsewhere in the U.S. it may just be another party, but here it is an important part of our culture and who we are," O'Hara said. "It allows us to be very creative and escape reality for a day or two, which is something all of us need from time to time." Located in downtown New Orleans just seven blocks from the French Quarter, New Orleans Party and Costume gets a lot of their Mardi Gras sales from people visiting and staying close to the store - both locals and tourists. "Mardi Gras gets bigger each year," O'Hara said. "This year was one of the biggest in many years due to it being so late…  » Read more
Milestone Memories

Milestone Memories

Profits increase as the ages move up In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I turned 30 years old this year. The only reason I'm sharing this milestone information is because it's apparently the age when jokes about getting old and starting that trek up and over the hill can begin. But lucky for me, that hill seems to be getting pushed back more and more. According to AARP, more than 7,000 people will turn 65 years old every single day in 2011, so when it comes to going over the hill, 50 is now the new 40, which is now the new 30. If you're confused, don't blame it on age. Just throw on a party hat and let the fun begin. Party PropsThe stereotype associated with reaching certain milestone ages has changed from negative to simply another reason to…  » Read more

Competing for Profits

Have you ever considered entering your balloon designs in an industry competition? There's a lot more to be gained than just an award. Applying Your ExperienceThere are many educational events that take place in the balloon industry, and many of them involve competitions. You may have even seen some of the awe-inspiring large sculptures that are created for such competitions. But it's not only about large sculptures, which can sometimes be intimidating. There are often categories for smaller pieces such as a delivery bouquet or balloon centerpiece/table arrangement. And as a party retailer, these may be your area of expertise! Consider the BenefitsEntering a competition is a great learning experience that can help you grow on a professional level in several ways. Competitions motivate you to use your imagination and get your creative juices flowing if you want a piece that really stands out. It's…  » Read more

The Store Room: “What was the most common graduation theme this past year?”

Our monthly column is devoted to what works and what doesn't - for our readers, from our readers "What was the most common graduation theme this past year?" Patricia SchwermanPartyWorksHuntsville, Ala.Although the most popular theme this year was pool parties, the invitation card stock clearly had to have a smattering of specific school colors on it. As far as party supplies, the school colors were very important-whether it was banners, plates, napkins, general or décor. Our most popular items were our custom banners made on demand with specific colors and the graduate's name. Wickel DonohueWickel's BalloonsWashington, D.CThe most popular theme for graduations this past year has been "super heroes." Melody Yesberg Celebrations UnlimitedFestus, Mo.We've found the last 20 years in our community that the school colors are the best sellers no matter what else we have on the shelf. The graduates like the other designs,…  » Read more