At this time one year ago, there was cause for concern at Champion Party Supply.
The longtime outfitter of Seattle revelry was forced to leave its space at 121 Denny Way to make way for new development.
“I was worried if people would follow us to our new location,” says third-generation owner Victoria Champion. “I was worried if people would know [if] we stayed open. I was worried people thought we had gone out of business, or weren’t going to reopen.”
Twelve months later, those fears have proven to be unfounded. Now just off the Magnolia Bridge at 1461 Elliot Ave. W., Champion says the store has seen an increase in customers from Magnolia, and many more families frequenting the outfitter than before. An increased amount of parking at the new location has also benefitted the shop, Champion says, and while it may no longer see the benefits of being in close proximity to Seattle Center, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“At the old space we used to get tourists who would wander in, because we were so close to the Space Needle,” she says. “We don’t get that anymore, but the people who do come in here, they’re here specifically to shop, which is really nice.”
While the old location had a bit more space overall, at 16,000 square feet, Champion says only about 10,000 of that was dedicated to retail, if that. The current location boasts about 12,500 square feet of retail space, without the pitfalls of the old space, which she says was more cramped. That store was also awkwardly divided into two areas, with party supplies in the front, and costume-centric offerings in the back.
“We kind of had to go against the constraints of that layout, whereas here, we make our own areas and make it work for us,” Champion says.
This year, the store sports six aisles devoted to Halloween décor, the largest dedicated selection it has ever had for any one season. Champion also says the store is carrying more makeup, more balloons, more variations of birthday party supplies.
With more space, and longer aisles, she says that the store is able to carry a bigger selection of, “basically everything.”
“This space is like a big open canvas,” Champion says.
That open canvas did require some changes when the store first moved in, with a new entrance, new windows, new lighting, and some work on the building’s roof. However, Champion cautions “we’re still not quite done,” with upgrading the space.
More new windows are planned for the building’s southern wall, and in the near future an awning similar to the one that graced the storefront on Denny Way will be installed.
The hope is that it serves as an effective wayfinding beacon for customers.
“That’ll be a lot more helpful for people, because they can see us better especially when it’s dark out, that we’re here,” Champion says.
Originally founded as a sign-making and retail display business in 1936, the store is also marking 80 years of existence along with its one-year Interbay anniversary. Though, Champion says the long history didn’t come with any guarantees.
“Even if you moved a block away, you always are scared if people are going to know where you are, and if they’re going to follow you,” she says.
And while the shop opened on Elliot Avenue West just a few days before the start of October last year, it proceeded to have its best Halloween season since 2009.
In the rapidly-changing sphere of Seattle retail, at least one store has been able to make the best of being forced out.
For more information on Champion Party Supply, go to www.championparty.com.
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