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How to Become a Party Supply Distributor

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Party supply businesses benefit from upswings in the party and event planning industries. According to Dr. Joe Goldblatt, Certified Special Events Professional, the social events market (including anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, and children’s parties), is expected to continue its growth throughout the near future. This projected growth is tied to baby boomers and their related family events: grandchildren’s birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, and parents’ golden anniversaries. Well stocked party supply distributors will be favorably positioned to benefit from this ongoing growth.

Select your business structure. Consult with a Certified Public Accountant familiar with specialty retail businesses. Meet with a commercial insurance agent with similar experience. Obtain a business license from your city or county clerk’s office. Finally, contact your state Department of Revenue for a sales tax license (See Resources).

Choose a convenient location. Because you may draw business from several towns, select a building with easy access from major highways. Ensure that you have at least two entry and exit driveways, and sufficient parking for extremely hectic sales days.

Work with a sign shop to create colorful graphics that advertise your business to pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Inside the store, create miniature themed party centers with decorations and supplies for that party’s festivities.

Identify localized party markets. In addition to common party themes such as birthdays and weddings, look at area-specific themes that have significant potential. If you are located in a college town, for example, anticipate numerous late spring graduation parties. For local demographic information, including income, age, and education distributions, contact your local Chamber of Commerce (See Resources).

Profile your competition. Obtain a regional map, and pinpoint other party supply outlets within a two-hour drive. Visit these stores anonymously (or view their websites), to gather information on party themes and product lines.

Next, list retail stores that carry a limited selection of party supplies (along with information on available merchandise). Taken collectively, these summarized results will provide clues on untouched market niches and opportunities.

Place your party supply orders. Choose your party themes and product lines. Order from party supply wholesalers that offer varied products for each party theme. Investigate quantity discounts for merchandise with wide appeal (e.g. birthday hats and napkins) (See Resources).

Hire party-loving employees. You’re selling fun and entertainment, and outgoing party fans can help customers catch that enthusiasm. For example, a friendly, knowledgeable employee can turn a graduation party napkin purchase into a themed event with all the trimmings.

Throw a Grand Opening party. Pick a popular seasonal party theme, and decorate your store with matching balloons and streamers. Provide a Grand Opening cake, light refreshments, and live music. Offer attractive discounts on higher-margin merchandise, plus introductory savings on other party goods. Advertise in the entertainment section of local newspapers. Finally, place flyers at gathering places such as coffee shops, gourmet stores, and fitness centers.


Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.