Greetings, Etc.

Third Annual National Party Retailing Awards
Presented at Chicago Gala Event; New Party
Retailing Hall of Fame Established, First Member,
Marty Allen Inducted

by Noreen Walsh

Randolph, NJ (March 10, 2006) – A gala National Party Retailing Awards event was held Friday evening, March 10, 2006, to honor excellence in partyware retailing. More than 300 retailers and manufacturers gathered together on the opening night of the International Halloween, Costume and Party Show in Rosemont, Illinois, for this third annual Awards celebration, which featured casino gaming and dancing as entertainment. This year also marked the establishment of a new Party Retailing Hall of Fame and the induction of its first member.

“We launched the National Party Retailing Awards three years ago to honor unsung heroes – retailers whose hard work and creative talents were mostly going unnoticed by the industry,” said Dorene VanHouten, publisher of Greetings etc. magazine, which produces the Awards event. “These awards are presented at the store level, recognizing the contributions of the store team that make the achievement possible.”

This year the magazine established a Party Retailing Hall of Fame to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the partyware industry. “Party Retailing Hall of Fame members,” Ms. VanHouten explained to the crowd assembled for the awards ceremony, “can be chosen from any segment of retailing – CEO, store manager, exceptional store personnel. But they will all be individuals who have had a significant and positive impact on the party industry.” Kathy Krassner, editor-in-chief of Greetings etc. magazine, announced the first member of the new Party Retailing Hall of Fame: Marty Allen, CEO of the 300-store Party America retail chain. Ms. Krassner pointed to Mr. Allen’s creativity and leadership in growing this chain from just a few dozen stores into an industry powerhouse by upgrading in-store and corporate technology, overhauling the inventory system and improving customer service through better employee training.

In addition to inducting Mr. Allen into the Party Retailing Hall of Fame, thirteen National Party Retailing Awards were also presented to stores who rose above and beyond their peers in key areas of retailing – including creating elaborate displays for seasonal or everyday partyware and accessories, devising innovative new ways to merchandise and market balloons, and offering a variety of custom services. “The enthusiasm of these retailers is evident,” Ms. VanHouten stated, “both in the entry material they submit and at the Awards gala event. They take pride in their accomplishments yet are always on the prowl for new ways to ‘wow’ their customers.”

Nominations for these awards were submitted by partyware retailers and manufacturers. Judging for the National Party Retailing Awards took place in early February at the offices of Edgell Communications, the publisher of Greetings, etc. magazine. The panel of judges consisted of members of the editorial and production staffs at Edgell, and each entry was judged within its category on criteria such as innovation, attractiveness, execution and effectiveness. Each store submitting an entry was also considered for the Party Retailer of the Year Awards.