The end of the summer is the perfect time to take stock of the first half of the year before everyone goes Halloween crazy. PPE spoke to Shirlee Gibbs, owner of The Dressing Up Shop, to find out how the party business has been so far in 2018.
How has business been for you in the first six months of 2018, in general?
“We have had a steady six months with very few weeks when takings were low. With all the demand for bunting and flags, Royal paraphernalia, World Cup fever, local carnivals, festivals and children’s school history days we have been bouncing from one thing to another for months!”
Do you think that the last six months have been a fair representation of the state of the party industry at the moment?
“The party industry still seems to have a lot of life in it. We have been trading for over 30 years and you must keep up with the times with regular tweets, blogs, facebook videos and stock selections constantly reminding people of new lines.”
Have you been any particular crazes or fashions this year?
“With all the demand for bunting and flags, Royal paraphernalia, World Cup fever, local carnivals, festivals and children’s school history days we have been bouncing from one to another for months!”
Have any areas of your business done particularly well this year so far?
“We sell lots of wigs and accessories – items which internet purchases often look like they will include but usually don’t. We also offer a next-day delivery for last-minute requests and have a large stock of hire costumes which include all accessories.”
Have you made any significant business changes this year?
“We have just had our shop front replaced and added an awning which helps to encourage people to stop and window shop regardless of the weather. Our website is updated on a regular basis and our windows are changed with every coming event, so we keep things fresh and current. We offer discounts as often as possible as well – our staple is the military as we are surrounded by service personnel.”
What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to your business this year?
“For the past 20 years we have provided tailor made costumes for the local pantomime and were highly acclaimed by the local newspaper, that payment helps greatly to boost our takings in January which always seems slow after the busy season. This in turn has encouraged surrounding businesses to seek our help with revamping their promotional and seasonal costumes.We have regular groups of people we hire bulk orders of costumes for historical events and school dressing-up days.”
Is there a particular supplier that has has really made a difference to your business in 2018?
“All our stockists are brilliant. Smiffy’s and Bristol Novelty have been especially helpful as I have experienced aggressive tactics from a new competitor. They have both helped me and it has been so helpful to have next-day delivery including Saturdays, my customers are astounded when everything arrives so quickly.”
How do you expect the rest of 2018 to be for your business?
“I think the watchword is flexibility and customer service, we try to go the whole nine yards and beyond. We have worked through three recessions and it doesn’t get much tougher than the last one. We are confident enough to have just renewed our lease for a further five years. We are hoping to go online in the not too distant future, so for us the future is rosy.”