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A St. Patrick’s Day merchandise display at Mardi Gras Party Beads. The shop has over its 25 years in business been able to identify its core customers and their interests.
s party stores nationwide constantly promote as many holidays, seasons, themes and special events as possible and pertinent to the specific identifiable interests of their own core customers, many of the basic and familiar seasonal special day favorites tend to ebb and flow with today’s more cautious customers, most party store veterans agree. Perfect examples of this are two of the oldest, highly-diverse special days, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.

In a random survey of party stores about the significance of these two particular days to their overall annual business, it was clear that the former remains a strong adult time for both large and small green-themed parties, celebrations needing colorful costumes, horns and trinkets, while the latter is a more subdued family time usually resulting in less revenue for party stores. As a result, the former provides a much stronger profit-producer during the first quarter each year; thus party stores allocate considerable display space, OTB and inventory mix to St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

For most surveyed, when it comes to Easter, they indicated some Easter merchandise is always included in their displays depending on the exact date each year, and they try to make sure they have available Easter decorations, tableware, baskets, with some reporting they also rent bunny costumes.

After 56 years in business, Ehrles Party and Carnival Supply Inc., Tulsa, Okla., has a pretty good handle on what interests its core customers, especially when it comes to these two holidays. In their freestanding 10,000-square-foot store and equally large adjacent warehouse, Floyd Hannah, owner, and daughter Tracey Hannah Campbell, manager, make certain sufficient inventory for every holiday, season and special event is always readily available.

Where Easter is concerned, Campbell said this has become a family focused weekend for sales of decorations, baskets, tableware and even some bunny ears and tails, as well as rental of full bunny suits. Churches, schools and organizations also buy and rent similar items, she noted.

A paper goods display at To-Do’s in Edwardsville, Ill. College students make up a significant demographic for the sale of St. Patrick’s Day merchandise at the store.

Like most party stores, Ehrles has worked hard to create a strong yearly business in St. Patrick’s Day, labeling it “definitely a day meant for adults to go out to a party.” As a result, they stock “lots and lots and lots of beads and trinkets” (equally popular for Mardi Gras), as well as everything synonymous with “the wearing of the green.”

Because this look is so colorful and popular, not just for March 17, Ehrles keeps a permanent year-round display of St. Patrick’s Day-style items in the store.

The store name Mardi Gras Party Beads in Metairie, La., aptly describes the focus of the inventory, especially when it comes to the trinket, bead and party merchandise synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras.

Attesting to the importance of St Pat’s Day to the store, owner Walt Carlone indicated it ranks in the top three in sales each year. With 13,000 square feet, the store has been able over its 25 years to identify its core customers and their interests, which are both individuals planning their own parties and local restaurants, bars and organizations.

From St. Patrick’s Day apparel, trinkets, beads and decorations to glasses, tableware and horns, the Mardi Gras Party Beads store has watched the growth of March 17 as a major adult party time. Thanks to several St. Pat’s Day parades, the store also supplies appropriate costumes and decorations for floats. As a result, the store is able to capture a strong wholesale business for March 17 celebrations in the area.

Tracey Hannah Campbell, manager of Ehrles Party and Carnival Supply, Inc. Easter has become a time for sales of decorations, baskets, and even bunny ears and tails, as well as the rental of bunny suits, for the Tulsa, Okla., shop.

Thanks to retirement communities in the area, PJ’s Party Supply in Denton, Texas, gains steady year-round business for special days such as St. Patrick’s Day and for the Easter season. The latter also generates business from bars and restaurants, while Easter brings in customers planning church luncheons and events.

While acknowledging in recent years she has cut back a bit in buying party supplies for specific holidays, owner June Schiada said her 10-year-old, 6,000-square-foot store remains competitive with mass merchants. One way to achieve this, she said, has resulted from serious efforts to “take the time needed to find exclusive patterns and styles others in my area don't or aren’t likely to carry.”

She also believes her rental department featuring a variety of party machines/equipment, linens, candles/holders and more plays an important role in the success of her party store.

Businesses promoting parties, such as bars, restaurants, private clubs and others, make St. Patrick’s Day a strong sales time for To-Do’s, in Edwardsville, Ill. Katie Elrod, owner of the 16-year-old party store, said her St. Pat business focuses on “all types of bright and colorful wearables for adults,” usually augmented with the requisite trinkets, beads, pipes and other adornments.” Thanks to reps who visit her store regularly, she said she is able to order what works with her core customers for a festive day like St. Patrick’s Day, especially since she is a college town whose students make up a considerable part of her special St. Patrick’s Day business.

She starts displaying St. Patrick’s Day items in late January throughout her 2,700-square-foot store, which also enjoys a very unique front sign. A former bank building, it features a large, permanent LED-controlled time and temperature sign, and Elrod can create instant, eye-catching messages for St. Patrick’s Day and other holidays, events, promotions and sales.

Like most party stores surveyed, she indicated Easter is not an important holiday in her year-long promotional planning.

“If it’s green and colorful and wearable” it works for St. Patrick’s Day customers for Brenda Fink, owner of Party Magic & Gifts in Godfrey, Ill. The decades-old 5,500-square-foot store does a strong business with adults and some schoolchildren in the traditional “wearing of the green” theme denoting St. Patrick’s Day, she said. Many adults and kids will wear their special vests, hats, beads and ties to work and school. Area bars and restaurants also promote their own parties and celebrations and buy appropriate decorations from her store, Fink reported.

When asked when she puts out St. Patrick’s Day merchandise, the veteran retailer’s answer: “Once January promotions are over we put out all spring, holiday and themed inventory, so that includes St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, as well as all spring-like items.” As for Easter, she acknowledged it is not an important buying time, noting “Several years ago we tried creating Easter baskets but it didn't work out for us. Our customers just weren’t interested.”

Putting St. Patrick’s Day and other first-quarter-of-the-year merchandise in her permanent seasonal section in the front of the 2,000-square-foot store works best for Tammi Walkup, manager, Celebrations Party Store & More in Ada, Okla.

Since there are no March 17 parades in her area, most of her St. Patrick’s Day business comes from apparel, tableware and decorations for the home, office or school.






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