Third generation of party-store owners say the fun hasn’t faded

Despite being the third-generation of a family-owned party store, Dean and Peter Salakas say they still get joy out of their business.

“I love seeing all the new products, I get excited about it. I'm like a little kid in a, candy store type thing,” Dean Salakas told Small Business Secrets.

The Party People started in 1987 in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, when Mala Salakas set up their first custom and party supply shop with the help of her dad Peter Nikolas.

“Funny enough, 12 months after that McDonalds put in parties into their stores,” Mala said. “Obviously we were visionaries way ahead of our time!”

In 1997 they we’re the first party store in Australia to go online and when sons Dean and Peter, who bought the business in 2007, it was like coming home.

Mala Salakas set up The Party People with the help of her dad in 1987.
Mala Salakas set up The Party People with the help of her dad in 1987.

“We've lived this place since we were at school, school holidays, sick days, if you didn't go to school you came and worked here, so you know I think we had a really good understanding of the business,” Peter Salakas said.

But for the two brothers taking over the family shop became something much bigger. They advertised on Google and began started seeing triple-digit growth in their first few years.

The business went from three employees to 40 and they opened a second store.

“There's kind of no choice but to dig in and get your hands dirty, and essentially that's how we had to get through those first couple of years,” Peter Salakas said, “We did 3 o’clock, 4 o clock nights’ consistently for months on end”.

With the business growth came the sharp increase in seasonal peak times for sales, which Dean said they had to learn the hard way.
“That's the thing where we really failed in the first few years. We just didn't plan for the peaks in our business, because we have a big peak during Halloween and Christmas,” Dean said.

“We have a whole system now and planning around our whole business, which has changed things dramatically and we don't get caught out making mistakes where we weren't ready for it.”

The brothers are planning on opening their third store later this year. And despite the challenges of running an expanding business, Peter said keeping the spirit of the place is what has made it a success.

“That's what makes it a great place to work, and a great place to come. We're constantly joking, laughing, you know, having a bit of fun with managers,” Peter Salakas said. “You're not in a serious industry”.

Want to find out the secret to small business success? Tune into #BizSecretsSBS at Sundays 5pm on SBS, stream on SBS Demand, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Source: SBS Small Business Secrets