July 29, 2021
Share Your Story: Party Productions
This independent retailer offers everything customers need for any celebration.
Party Productions is a family owned business that has been operating for over 40 years. This independent store offers everything one needs for a celebration — themed décor, drinkware, bulk foods, dinnerware, linens, gifts, sports, costumes and more. It even provides rental services that consist of large party tents to tables, chairs, linens, backdrops, lighting and more.
The store has approximately 16 employees that all work cohesively to make any event a reality. Party Productions had three retail locations in Iowa, but two stores have closed and all the inventory was moved to its main location in Fort Dodge. Meg Beshey of Party Productions shared its story with Stationery Trends.
Changes implemented during the pandemic
During COVID, the staff’s working hours; some working less than part-time. Like other retailers, Party Productions implemented specific cleaning procedures to keep both clients and staff safe, and offered curbside pickup along with social media posts describing available inventory, like masks and other necessities.
Additionally, Beshey utilized short videos to help show customers what was essential to families to survive “the stay-at-home” time, and even reached out to the restaurant industry to let them know what supplies the store had in stock that they may need.
“At the main store, we still do quite a bit of curbside, especially for the elderly who don’t want to leave their cars,” she shared. “We have the order ready, they pay us and we bring back the receipt to them, all with a smile on our face.”
During COVID, Party Productions maintained communications with its customers through weekly emails, and utilized paid radio airtime and a few print ads to let people know the store was open. She shared that another helpful tool was social media posts in which customers asked friends where they could find something, which led business to the store.
Most Requested Items
Construction, dinosaur, patriotic and Christmas themed merchandise is selling well right now. Beshey shared that the popularity of these themes generally reflects birthday and family gathering celebration needs.
“With all the weddings and reunions going on full-scale we are heavy into helping with these celebrations in all form and manner,” she said. “For scrapbooking, it is paper specific for states and interesting places associated with those states. For cards we have an array of classic older designed cards to more modern, funny cards that are suitable for any occasion.”
Of course, the store also sells balloons! And other than tent, table and chair rentals, balloons have been the most requested item.
Holiday Season Plans
Party Productions is ramping up for the Q4 push. In the past, the store’s backroom was stocked full with holiday items that allowed customers to find merchandise quickly and easily. Beshey noted that holiday products are typically put on display after the Halloween push, but due to campers in the region celebrating Christmas in July, some inventory is out of stock.
“There are also end caps and special storefront displays up by the register for customers to look at and then go to the back to see everything we have for sale. We hit the social media basics, as its hard to promote the items we have for all the celebrations that occur around the holidays,” Beshey shared. “Our fan base is ‘a-mah-zing!’”
Party Productions has participated in Shop Local in the past and plans to do so again this year. Beshey also explained that it, like many other stores, has experienced some challenges sourcing product.
Beshey has found that grab-and-go solutions are effective with all holidays, not just Christmas. “We have done a variety of bundling, as in baskets for holiday occasions. Sometimes we create custom ones for the local bar businesses for holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras and Halloween,” she explained. “On occasion we create bundle packages for nursing homes and other residential facilities for holidays like New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. Each basket is a variety of beads, masks, snacks and fun décor to utilize for their activities.”
Party Productions also collaborates with a variety of businesses. “For their events we help them with a wholesale cost as well as give them some great deals on whatever they need. Our community has had three major events in July and our business has supplied them with everything from tables, beads, plates, serving ware to hundreds of placemats and costumes for wedding events,” Beshey detailed. Recently, the store assisted with a tribute to the city’s historical figures and donated chairs, tables and printing for the event. Since each event is different, that means Party Productions has to meet an array of needs, and the team is set to pull everything together, Beshey said.
“It is important to create an atmosphere of positivity near your entrance,” Beshey said. “Once they come into the store your customer should be smiling knowing they will have fun shopping and finding what they need.” Additionally, she suggested the use of simple, easy to read signs detailing return policies is important, as is utilizing displays that reflect happenings in the community or specific sales.
Beshey also suggested that printed signs are good, but she prefers handmade signs that are “fun, colorful with quirky sayings on them.” And customers love those signs, as they smile/laugh when they see them, she said.
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