Paul and Dave Scotthorne took a calculated risk getting out of the dollar store business six years ago, but the move looks to be paying off for the father-son team behind Langford-based Party Crashers.
Having recently relocated from Veterans Memorial Parkway to the 8,000-square-foot former End of the Roll building across the highway on Millstream Road, and watching sales grow daily at their fledgling second location in Quadra Village, they’re busier than ever, Paul says.
“The last four months for me has been insane, I’ve been running into the ground,” he says, adding, “It’s about getting the brand out there.”
Scotthorne calls the new store “bigger, brighter, better and funner” than the previous Langford location. Inside, almost 1,500 sq. ft. is dedicated to balloons, which has proven to be a drawing card for customers. “We are branded as Victoria’s premier balloon provider,” he says.
Having more space also allows them to carry many more lines and more of the products people have been asking for, he adds. That focus on customer service mirrors their decision to close their long-established Buck or Two store in Westshore Town Centre to open Party Crashers – it came out of a desire to better serve those customers.
“We started monitoring what was selling and what departments we were getting the most requests for; people asking for certain party stuff and Over the Hill stuff,” Scotthorne says. “After San Francisco stores closed down, there was no gag gifts that people could really buy anymore, so we just started hitting that one really hard.”
Six years in, Party Crashers provides similar cashflow to Buck or Two, but in a different way.
“At Buck or Two we used to see 500 customers a day that would spend $5. (Today) we see 100 customers a day that spend $25,” he says. “With this you get to work more with the customer.”
This time of year tends to be busy in general for this niche business. Where the children’s gatherings are more of a summer thing, there’s still plenty of adult parties being put on by people looking to squeeze every last bit of out of the season. “(Fall is) kind of a three-headed monster; we go from Halloween to Christmas and then to New Year’s.”
They long ago recognized the last-minute nature of party shopping and decided to stay open until 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, a move that has given them another business edge.
In June they expanded into a former pharmacy on Quadra Street. Managed by Dave Scotthorne, that store has six staff while the nine staffers from the Langford store moved up to the new location. The latter number could go up Paul says, if all goes well.
“We’re going to play it by ear. We have good staff, a good crew at the two stores that handle everything from customer service to receiving and merchandising. It’s going to boil down to demand,” he says. “If our traffic in the new store is really busy, we’ll have lots of people up there working.”
While expanding always comes with risks, their timing seems good on various fronts. Not only does the large, new store open up the possibility of becoming even more of a one-stop party shop, a seniors complex opening up next door to the Quadra store in 2017 sees more potential business coming their way for greeting cards and other business.
“Every day it’s growing, the traffic count’s going up every day, the sales are going up every day,” Scotthorne says of the Victoria store.
The company is launching e-commerce in November on its website and plans are already in the works to open a store in Duncan next year.
The success of Party Crashers sometimes surprises Scotthorne, but he’s quick to credit the West Shore market for helping them build the business.
“We’re local and we started with a idea and it kind of went from there – and it all started in Langford,” he says.
The new location is at 2364 Millstream Rd., with the Victoria store is at 2642 Quadra St. For more information visit thepartycrashers.ca, or call 778-430-5959.