Party Club of America show draws herds of retailers, vendors to Fort Worth
Herds of party supply retailers and vendors gathered in Fort Worth, Texas, for Party Club of America’s conference and trade show. The show took place at the Fort Worth Convention Center March 14-16, 2016, with most of the attendees staying at the historic Hilton hotel, which is adjacent to the convention center.
The convention portion of the gathering took place March 14, with opening remarks, a keynote speaker, an open session and meetings on everyday and seasonal importing.
That evening, attendees adorned their best cowboy gear and busses transported them to historic Stockyard Station, where they enjoyed dinner, drinks and dancing (photo gallery) at the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. The outing was sponsored by Amscan, Rubie’s, Forum Novelties and Fun Express.
The trade show began March 15 and ended the following day (photo gallery). It was a chance for PCA members to spend one-on-one time with each of the 50-plus vendors in attendance. The rotation-style format allotted for 10 minutes at each booth.
Party & Paper Retailer was among the booths at the show, which drew retailers from around the United States, as well as Canada, the Netherlands and Panama. Having the chance to meet with retailers was as enjoyable as it was informative. A few things that stood out to me were:
- Most of the U.S. has been enjoying reduced gas prices over the past year, but the lower oil prices haven’t been good news everywhere, specifically where the oil industry is relied upon for jobs. Retailers in southeastern Texas and in Louisiana reported tough times for local economies. “The biggest challenge for us is the oil industry,” said Bob Wright of Party Boy in Houston.
- Robert Conrad, owner of Frisco Party Station in Frisco, Texas, said he and others he’s talked with have had trouble finding a point-of-sale system to fit the needs of party supply retailers.
- I’ve spoken to numerous retailers in recent months about helium. While many said they felt a pinch on the product during the shortage of 2012-13, Cherie Robideaux of Woodworm Party Store in Capitola, California, is the first one who told me they actually couldn’t find helium to buy at one point. “I lost helium for six weeks,” she said. “I bet it dropped sales 25 percent.”
- Overall, most retailers reported having a better 2015 than they did 2014, with most saying their increased sales were in the moderate range. “
- Wright may have had the quote of the show when talking about his employment philosophy: “If you’re leanin’, you’re leavin’.”
Also, during the show, PCA announced Andy Richman would take over as its new executive director. For more information on PCA, visit www.partyclubofamerica.com.