From the February 2002 issue of Startups

Karen Suttman knows how hard it is to pull off a kid's birthday party, driving from store to store in search of Bob the Builder plates, napkins, cups, signs and party favors-all while the tired birthday boy throws a mini tantrum.

MAKE THE CALL
1-800-PARTYSHop, (800) 727-8974;
also visit the BizOpp Zone

A few months ago, Suttman found the solution to this party dilemma and gained herself a side business. The co-owner of a swimsuit shop, Suttman was looking for something to do in the off season and started looking into business opportunities. She learned about 1-800-Party Shop, a party supply retailer, and became a licensee last fall.

While some 1-800-Party Shop licensees sell the party supplies and theme packages door-to-door or by hosting parties, Suttman prefers to sell only via the Internet. "I didn't want to get into a business that [forced me to go] out in the evenings to throw parties and then deliver product to people," says Suttman, who promotes her site via search-engine listings and ads in local magazines that cater to families. "This business gave me the freedom to make money working from home, or wherever I'm at, and not have to commit more of the time I don't want to commit."

Suttman, whose business is based in her Painesville, Ohio, home, devotes about 15 hours a week to her business, marketing her site while her 3-year-old son is asleep or at day care. Someday she'd like to devote her full attention to her business and hire a staff to manage her swimwear shop. "I have a three-year plan that I would like it to become full time and work solely out of the house and have more free time for myself and my family," says Suttman, who earns a commission on product sales. "It's a real nice way to balance-I can do a lot of this stuff after my son's asleep and it [doesn't] take time away from my family."