Sep 27, 2017
Owning party store provides sense of community belonging to Castillos
Spotlight On: Go Party Decoration of Charlotte, North Carolina
Janet and Jose Luis Castillo moved to the United States from Venezuela in 1994 and officially became U.S. citizens eight years later. Jose Luis, an architect, and Janet, who has a 30-year history in communications and advertising, have lived in various places around the country. It wasn’t until 2016 that they truly found a sense of belonging when they opened their own party store.
In August 2014, Janet Castillo started Go Party Decoration as an online event planning and decor business. Two years later, the couple opened a 700-square-foot brick-and-mortar store in an inviting shopping district in thriving Huntersville, North Carolina, which is located about 15 miles north of downtown Charlotte.
“After years of just going work, I now run a business that I love,” Janet Castillo said. “As a small mom-and-pop store, I also feel so connected to my community. We get advice from fellow business owners; we have supporters. Starting this business has made us feel like we really belong.”
The Castillos devote much of their time to Go Party Decoration, and they have two “awesome” part-time employees that help with event preparations, said Janet, who works diligently with customers to create the look they desire using in-store products and balloons.
Castillo graciously shared some more information about her store.
PPR: What are your best-sellers?
JC: Our bestsellers change with the seasons. In April and May, we sold a lot of gold- and black-colored products. All in all, people come to us most for personalized balloons, balloon bouquets and balloon arches.
PPR: You’re at the store virtually every day, but how is your husband involved?
JC: I’m very fortunate. Jose Luis is fully involved with the store (which is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week). He is an architect and excellent at building projects, which has come in handy. We’ve always dreamed together and, for us, this store is one of our dreams come alive. So, we are both fully committed to it and our customers.
PPR: How do you go about working with a customer to make their event or decoration a reality?
JC: Everything depends on the customer. Some of our customers come in with specific ideas, so I work with them to realize their vision. Other customers come in and say “I’m hosting a baby shower” or “It’s my daughter’s first birthday,” but they don’t have a particular vision for the event. With these customers, I show them different ideas and products in the store, Pinterest, blogs, Google images, etc., to get a feel of what they like and what they don’t like. Then, I ask a series of questions such as how many guests will attend; where will this event be held; what is their budget; who is involved in the planning decisions, etc.?
PPR: How do you keep product displays so organized and attractive?
JC: When designing the store, Jose Luis and I brainstormed how we could make it pop with color and products but remain accessible, and then, this vision came to us. Now that it’s up and running, I work every day at keeping the store organized. I also work to make sure it stays relevant. Every season, I change out the displays and move products around so that the most seasonally relevant pieces are easy to find.
PPR: What are your biggest challenges?
JC: At first, we didn’t know what collections to showcase. We didn’t know what our customers would want. Like many other small businesses, we built and run this store with limited resources and it’s challenging, at first, to know how best to use the resources you have. Now, we’re set up, but we’re still figuring out how best to market ourselves. Where should we advertise? What should we say? … We’ve consulted with a lot of sales representatives and others in the industry. We also review and re-review our sales plan.
PPR: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your store?
JC: Our photo booth service is available by appointment. Also, we recently started selling gourmet popsicles.