Jul 12, 2020
Party Starts Here!
Debbie Eisele

This Virginia retailer offers a one-stop experience for any celebration

Charlottesville, Virginia is a vibrant college town and is known for its amazing shopping experiences. Party Starts Here, a retailer providing Halloween and party merchandise, was founded in 1988 has been a staple in the region for over 30 years. Ray Feola is the vice president for the business and has been an integral part of the store since he was 14 years old.

The balloon section displays an array of options at Party Starts Here

“The Store was founded by my father, Augie, and his business partner George in 1988 with the idea of providing a one-stop party shopping experience while providing a high level of customer service that is often forgotten at the big box stores,” Feola explained. “I grew up in the business and was lucky enough to have my father and his business partner serve as mentors guiding and providing insights into the industry.”

Party Starts Here mask display

Charlottesville is a small town and the business relies heavily upon excellent customer service. “A happy customer is always the best way to get your name out to others in your immediate area,” he shared. “We like to pride ourselves on our customer service. We try to create a pleasant shopping experience for our customers by listening to their needs and coming up with solutions if we don’t have the exact product they are looking for.”

Party Starts Here offers a large Candy Display section in its store.

The store’s one-stop shopping experience is cultivated through a myriad of available merchandise. “We sell a variety of party supplies, costumes and costume accessories, such as wigs, make-up, mustaches and hats for every occasion. We also offer the largest selection of mylar and latex balloons in the area,” Feola said. “We offer balloon deliveries and balloon art like balloon arches and columns — pretty much anything the customer can come up with balloon-wise, we can build.”

Mardi Grass Balloon art from Party Starts Here

The store offers product for any occasion — themed party, holiday, banners, party supplies, and a variety of special life event options round out its ability to help just about any client.

The balloon section displays an array of options at Party Starts Here

Graduations, baby and bridal showers, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, religious events, retirements and more.

Aisle of wedding related merchandise at Party Starts Here

The PFA costume wall is used for merchandise displays. “We continue to hear from our customers how much easier it is to shop the costume wall rather than just having the costumes around the store,” Feola emphasized. “We also create highlighted floor displays for some of Halloween’s most requested items like fog machines, fog juice, light sticks, and spider webbing to name a few.”

Mask display at Party Starts Here

Feola is all about engagement. From “try me” displays,” visual effects displays and ready-to-go bundled items, Feola has grabbed customers’ attention. Customers also enjoy Feola’s give-back approach to many local organizations such as local sports teams and churches.

The main aisle display at Party Starts Here

The businesses’ mission is “to offer top of the line customer service combined with a knowledgeable and friendly staff” and will no doubt have clients coming back for any type of celebration.


Debbie Eisele is the managing editor for museums&MORE, Party & Halloween Retailer, and Gift Shop Pets and the senior retail editor for Gift Shop Magazine and Stationery Trends.
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