U.S. `category killer’ set to invade

Look out Mom-and-Pop party supply stores.You might not be celebrating when u.s. giant Party City opens a superstore near your tiny operation, and starts to advertise its size and selection.The New Jersey-based chain is planning to open 75 stores in Canada...

Look out Mom-and-Pop party supply stores.

You might not be celebrating when u.s. giant Party City opens a superstore near your tiny operation, and starts to advertise its size and selection.

The New Jersey-based chain is planning to open 75 stores in Canada in the next five years, each one with up to 10,000 feet of floor space and about 25,000 products.

If this wasn’t bad enough for the small operations that dot neighborhoods across the country, the ‘category killer’ is also on the hunt for an ad agency.

Party City wants its agency to develop newspaper, radio, and tv advertising, as well as mailers to help the retailer in a bid to gain a big chunk of Canada’s estimated $700 million party supply market.

Michael Shneer, president of Party City in Canada (based in Richmond Hill, Ont.), says the decision on the agency should be made in the next month or two.

Shneer would not divulge a budget.

Party City’s ad agency in the u.s. is Peters Communications, based in New Jersey.

There are about 115 Party City superstores across 27 states in the u.s., Spain and Puerto Rico.

The first Canadian Party City store is expected to open soon in Brampton, Ont., followed by a store in Mississauga, Ont., and then either Kitchener or Thornhill, both in Ontario.

The stores will sell everything from paper plates, cups and napkins to invitations, balloons, cake decorating supplies, and costumes.

The stock tends to revolve monthly, depending on the next holiday.

Because Party City deals in such huge quantities, it claims it can offer savings of 35% to 50% over competitors in the market.

The vast majority of shopping at Party City, and stores like it, is done by women.

The Canadian stores will be usually found in strip malls, but can also be located in power centres and will in some cases exist as freestanding operations.

According to Shneer, the retailer has little competition as it enters the Canadian market.

‘What makes Canada so attractive to us is that there is nobody selling party supplies in a superstore format, there’s nobody selling them at a deep discount, and there’s really nobody offering the incredibly large selection that we have,’ he says.

Shneer says that because of this lack of competition in Canada, Party City expects to do ‘extraordinarily well, perhaps even disproportionately well compared to what we do in the u.s.,’ where the chain is the market leader.

Party City’s major competitor in the u.s. is The Discount Party Warehouse, which has about 37 ‘category killer’ superstores.