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“Be brave and smile, think ahead and work out all possible scenarios”

Based near Richmond in South West London, A Party Palace has been trading for 12 years, with owner Adrienne D’Souza making sure that – depsite this year’s many difficulties – consumers always leave feeling happier than when they walked in.

“There are six of us in the team – one full timer and a fabulous bunch of multi-skilled part-timers. I am very blessed and we really have held each other together since March. They blow me away!

We have made so many changes to the store, post-Covid. We have removed fixtures, changed our returns policy on wearables purchased in-store, put sanitiser everywhere, implemented staff training, added non-stop cleaning, become as cash-free as possible – and risk assessed until I can’t see straight!It’s all changed in these bonkers times. Our busiest days now – while we are in lockdown – are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The world really has gone mad! Who ever imagined that this would be how 2020 would work out?!

It’s all been about balloons and decorations for us this year. We have had our best year ever on piñatas and a couple of years ago we started to photograph our own designs of balloon bouquets. Over lockdown they have been so popular and we’re very happy with ourselves!

We’ve just put some Christmas balloon designs together. Santa won’t be in any grottos this year so families will try harder to bring him home – we’re thinking Santa suits will be popular, as will Christmas dress-up items for the head that work well on Zoom. Fun family Christmas games, paper decorations, tinsel – basically as much joy as we can sell! People want anything that can add fun to this crazy situation. I’m also really eyeing up the new wig range Manic Panic from Smiffys, I think they have great potential on lots of levels.

We also want to say thank you, as this isn’t just tough for us but also some suppliers who are really feeling it.
Matt from Smiffys saved the day for us just before Halloween when an order went astray that we desperately needed. He re-picked it and drove down to us  – at least three hours both ways.  How amazing is that?
Sergio from Palmer Agencies, couldn’t have helped more over Halloween and the gang at ITI (UK) were amazing when we were trying to gather some stuff together for VE Day. We’re sometimes really quick to judge in this industry but they’ve been so supportive to us over this time. So really this is just a big acknowledgement that they’ve really tried to do whatever they could.

The main thing I’m taking away from this year is to be brave and smile, keep pivoting, think ahead and work out all possible scenarios. Have a plan A,B,C and D! Also, engage with other retailers. I’ve had lots of Instagram chats with fellow retailers and it’s been really helpful when I’ve been  feeling a bit lost.

We have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram but work particularly hard on the latter.  It’s been worth it as we get lots of engagement and receive lots of enquiries and orders through it.  We’ve learnt to have a laugh, as the more fun you have the more people love it.

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