THE personal touch has proved the way to survive on the high street according to one Fylde business.
Pink Tree Parties this week celebrated five years in business as a one-stop party shop in Kirkham.
Paula Ardron-Gemmell said although online business is increasing there is no substitute for meeting customers face-to-face.
The company stocks not only the party basics at their Poulton Street shop such as invitations and cards and have items for stag and hen parties plus an hilarious range of fancy dress outfits, but also they are fully qualified balloon decorators.
They regularly build balloon arches for corporate events and organise balloons for prom nights.
Customers have included the likes of Bowker BMW, and Specsavers. Paula said: “When we set the business up I had just come back from South Africa and I was at a bit of a loose end.
“My husband was working with BAE out there and while I was there I studied accountancy and business.
“My best friend Amanda Lee was a teacher for years and she knew about the demand for balloons, parties and fancy dress.
“We had always struggled to get things for parties So we thought if we don’t set something up then somebody else will.
“So we set ourselves up and five years on we are still going strong, with no debts despite us opening in the depths of the recession.
She said that they were all party people and love what they do and even though Amanda has gone back to teaching she still comes back to help out with wedding fairs and late jobs.
Paula said: “The key is customer service.
“We have set up our website and have sales on Amazon.
“We are finding that we are getting more business on there than we used to, about 25 per cent of sales, but the one thing you can’t replicate on line is customer service.
“When people come in to our shop we will we will do our utmost to help them get exactly what they want.
“I think you have to take a personal interest and don’t simply try to sell the customer something.
“If we do not stock it, we know where to get it from. We have about 25 suppliers of fancy dress and party wear that we can go to.
“The feedback from customers is that we are helpful and friendly. It’s about building trust.”
One aspect of online trading which the Pink Tree Parties team don’t appreciate is the cost of postage.
Paula said that £4 postage costs on online sales is money lost to Paypal or the Post Office as they cannot reclaim it against VAT.