Aug 20, 2013
Spotlight On: Denver
So many reasons to party, but only one place to shop
The pinatas hanging from the ceiling of Fun Services in Denver are the first clue that this 7,200-squar-foot store complete with a warehouse full of concessions, costumes, accessories and a ladies’ boutique isn’t your average party store.
Locally owned and operated for more than 30 years, Fun Services has been “supplying fun to the Denver area since 1980” and offers everything from party goods to a special events department that provides full-service catering, party equipment, concession supplies, inflatables and a variety of other carnival supplies.
“We are fully committed to helping every customer celebrate their special occasion,” said store manager Alexis deMello. “Whether they’re planning a corporate picnic, school carnival, group fundraiser or trying to pick out that special costume, we are here to help with every detail.”
DeMello has been with Fun Services since 2006, and is joined by fellow store manager, Stephanie House, who came from the financial world to cultivate new business relationships through an array of marketing efforts.
“I came into the industry to reach out to new markets and bring in new businesses,” House said. “There was a need to have one person designated to focus on product control, and that’s been me since 2011.”
When it comes to products, they have a Top 100 list that contains items they sell year round, like crepe paper, ribbon, balloons, metallic fringe and concession items.
“This list helps us to key in on the most frequently requested items and keep our product selection versatile and flexible when new themes and trends come our way,” deMello said. “We also carry custom imprinted merchandise for the 16 local area high schools. It’s been a great hit during the graduation season, as well as for other school functions, and has become a year round staple for us.”
But deMello said balloons are what separate them from the big-box stores. Fun Services offers typical bouquets, but also makes balloon sculptures. Shoppers can come in to the store and buy a door greeter for a graduation party, a pacifier for a baby shower or a huge display for a promotion – something that other stores in the area can’t offer.
Something else they offer is a costume selection year round to help out the parents with kids’ school projects, which also helps boost sales in the slower winter months. DeMello said having a heavier inventory on the accessory kits for presidents, inventors, scientists, etc. is a huge advantage for them and that American Indians, ’50s poodle skirts, lab coats, Mardi Gras masks and ’60 and ’70s costumes are a staple for them.
“We know schools do these events, and we carry a heavier inventory just for these occasions and our sales suffer if we don't carry those costumes/accessories,” she said. “Not only are we selling the children’s costumes, but parents are buying, too! Father/daughter dances are getting more popular and we noticed a huge sales increase in these slower winter months because of these school functions.”
They’ve also noticed an increase in the adult-themed parties with decades, superheroes, Roman/Greek topping the charts and shoppers leaning toward accessories and building their own costume.
When it comes to Halloween, deMallo said success depends on a strong staff and a great product selection. They do two or three different training sessions – a general overall Halloween training where they cover everything from dressing room procedures to “upset customer” training and a makeup training session.
“We sell a ton of Mehron makeup and in order for this brand to sell, the staff needs to know how it works,” deMallo said. “After the first year of our makeup training, our makeup sales spiked!”
Make it an Event
Outside of the party store itself, Fun Service offers a variety of services from their Special Events department – everything from party equipment like tables, chairs, canopies, etc. to inflatables, carnival games, prize wheels, etc. for things like corporate events and school carnivals.
The prizes are on consignment after a minimum has been met, and for their “Full Service” fun fairs, they provide an attendant that’s there for the duration of the event to help with any questions they might have. Because it’s such a large division, they have a separate staff that works the Special Events department.
“We have the core staff that we keep year round, but in the summer time we bring a ton of high school kids to work carnivals, corporate picnics and such,” House said. “Usually when a customer walks into the store, we try to tell them about all our departments, and if they have any questions, we aim to get them to talk to a department representative to promote our programs. Even though we are different departments, we strive to promote each others business as a team.”
They work with a lot of schools to provide organizations with fun and challenging games, concessions, inflatables and prizes in a safe environment at an affordable price. The games and booths are provided for a nominal fee that’s waived if the organization completes a Santa’s SecretShop/Holiday Gift Shop or an All-School fundraiser during the same school year.
“Our goal is to get all of our programs into each school,” House said. “For example, if a school is interested in a carnival, we try to promote not only the school carnival, but also a Santa’s Secret Shop or a school fundraiser program. If a school signs up for all three services, they get a special discount.”
House said that Fun Services has helped hundreds of schools and organizations achieve their fundraising goals by offering extensive selections of profitable fundraising products. As a local company in Colorado, they are able to meet one-on-one with fundraising groups and chair people.
“Our unique fundraising kick-offs ensure that students are both excited and informed before starting the sale,” House added. “We can also offer free samples of our product at your back-to-school-night.”
They offer several catalogs with a variety of items ranging from frozen food and cookies to a holiday gift item brochure with everything from kitchen items to wrapping paper.
Both organizations make money because the group sells from catalogs that are priced for fundraising. There’s a 40 to 50 percent profit for the school built into the price, and the store’s profit is built into the cost of the product to the group.
So whether it’s that pinata they have hanging from the store ceiling or a bounce house for a company picnic, Fun Services has what shoppers in Colorado need. After all, there are “so many reasons to party, but only one place to shop.”
By Abby Heugel