Survival Of The Biggest

PartyLand Of Opportunity

Most franchisees agree that in a fiercely competitive industry, it's almost impossible to put a value on personal service. "This is where our franchisees have [an advantage] over large [discount] store chains, which also sell party supplies," says John L. Barry, vice president of franchise development at PartyLand Inc. in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. "Nobody else is really pushing the service button. That's why 97 percent of our franchisees succeed."

Started in 1988, the PartyLand franchise currently has 103 stores throughout the United States. Likewise, the party-supply industry has grown aggressively over the past decade, according to Barry. Ten years ago, it was a $5 billion industry; today that total is $20 billion, according to trade magazine Party & Paper Retailer. "According to our research, the average American has a party eight times per year," says Barry. "Because the economy is good and unemployment is low, people are spending more on leisure than they [used to]."

But despite increased spending on parties, Barry says the industry has felt the effects of category killers and consequently, has consolidated over the past five years. "Larger chains are pushing small [independent] stores out of business. This is why we go out of our way to give customers extraordinary service and why we're so careful about picking people who'll be successful."

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This article was originally published in the August 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Survival Of The Biggest.

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