Nailsea's Partysmartys is the place to go to get your Party Rocking

Posted by Bristol Post on 8th Nov 2013

There's raucous laughter emanating from Partysmartys, the new party supplies shop in Nailsea's Crown Glass Shopping Centre.

Vivacious owner Fran Hunt is having a giggle with customers as they happily hand over their cash for all sorts of Halloween and party paraphernalia.

There's plenty of reason for Fran to be smiling. Not only is the bright and welcoming store proving to be a big success since it opened five weeks ago, but as the winner of the recent Win A Shop competition, she hasn't got to worry about her rent or business rates for the next 12 months.

The initiative, run by Crown Glass landlords Ellandi and Development Securities, saw more than 30 local people submit their ideas to win a shop in the Centre free for a year.

The judges were so impressed with the entries they decided to double their original plan to two shops – one is now being run as hobbycraft store Ewe-Knit and the other is Partysmartys.

"I had been running Partysmartys online for six years when the competition came up," Fran tells me.

"My husband said, 'I hope you haven't seen this competition in the paper', and I said, 'I'm afraid I have!'.

"So I submitted a plan and while I was on holiday I found out that I had been shortlisted.

"The interview was pretty tough and I had no Power Point presentation or detailed business plan – it was just me and my idea to open a fun shop selling everything you could want and need for a celebration.

"I was amazed when I found out I'd won – then we had a manic five weeks to get everything in place and open the doors. Now here we are!"

Whether you're organising a child's birthday bash, a wedding, a dinner party or a Christmas do, Partysmartys is your one-stop- shop for any social gathering, whatever your budget.

A large section of the shop is devoted to weddings, with everything from traditional and contemporary invitations and seating plans to beautiful tiaras and flower girl dresses. There are also pretty lengths of bunting and attractive cream lanterns with candles available to hire.

At the back of the store, there's an area dedicated to fancy dress. Whether you want to go in costume to a hen party, dress your little angel as a fairy or your little monster as a dragon, it's all here with accessories to match.

Another favourite with customers is the shelves packed with jars of traditional sweets including Sherbert Lemons, Bon Bons and Dolly Mixtures.

If you're organising a child's party, you need look no further. Catering to all styles, themes and budgets, there's a wide variety of matching party tableware and accessories.

Choose from Mr Men, Gruffalo, Pirate Jack, Flower Fairies and the very lovely Belle & Boo range.

As well as plates, cups and napkins, there are also matching table covers, invitations and party games including the old favourite, Pin The Tail On The Donkey.

Any parent will know how time-consuming and expensive filling those all-important the party bags can be. Partysmartys makes life easier, with a dedicated display offering a great range of small treats from balls and books to crayons and rubbers and toys and puzzles, starting at just 25p.

If that wasn't simple enough, the shop also provides cute, hand-made, pre-filled party bags for your guests to take home.

And it's here that the seeds of Partysmartys were planted.

Fran explains: "It all started when I used to do party bags for my now grown-up daughters. I was a working mum and I think we always feel that we have to go that extra mile, so I would make a range of creative pirate, monster and fairy bags that were fun and over-the-top but also inexpensive.

"The other parents would always say how great they were and I ended up making bespoke party bags for mums who had very little free time or who wanted something a little bit different. I catered for mums on a budget as well as the very well off ones, who would happily spend £10 per bag before the recession hit.

"It just grew and grew and six years ago I launched the Partysmartys website, which I ran from home."

Fran is thrilled to have her own shop and is keen for it to become a hub of the community.

"We want to create a buzz, so we're going to be organising flower arranging demonstrations, getting the local Brownies and other groups in for a range of events, and having lots of fun in the run-up to Christmas.

"We want to be a one-shop-stop for all things party in the area, so as well as our own extensive party range, we have a board promoting other local businesses, venues and entertainers."

The sign around the neck of the large toy pony at the back of the shop sums up Partysmartys easy-going, fun approach – "My name is Pete the pony and you may ride me entirely at your own risk".

"Everyone loves the pony," smiles Fran. "I think we need to bring the fun back to shops. A lot of stores are very serious because they have targets and head offices to report back to. We have none of that.

"People always say what a refreshing change it makes not to have 'Do Not Touch' signs all over the place. There's none of that here. Kids will be kids and they'll want to pick up the toys and that's fine. Come and touch. Come and enjoy. Bring your kids in. Bring your dogs in. Enjoy our party shop!"

Partysmartys 15 Colliers Walk, Crown Glass Shopping Centre, Nailsea, Bristol, BS48 1RG. Tel: 01275 818971.

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