Photo: Tracy and Maury Littleton at Party 'N Things in Northview Plaza.
(Photo by Kelly Daniel)
Party 'N Things named Small Business of the Year
by Kelly Daniel, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce has named Party 'N Things as the 2014 Small Business of the Year - one of three Gary Justice Business Excellence Awards presented annually and sponsored by Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. The award recipients will be recognized at the chamber’s 93rd Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet, Tuesday, Sept. 30, beginning at 6 p.m. in the SFA Grand Ballroom.
Surprise proves to be successful for Party 'N Things, and makes the business a true one-of-a-kind resource in East Texas.
"We've always said 'at Party ’N Things it is the things that will surprise you!' and that is still true today," said owner Maury Smith-Littleton. "We give people a destination to have fun, and my personal goal is that everyone who does business with us will leave with a smile."
Maury started in the business in 1988 when late husband Park Smith combined a party store with his Game Hunters in a space in the downtown Colony Mall. From there and in several locations around Nacogdoches with tons more combinations of inventory and services, Party 'N Things has grown from a 1,000 to a 10,550 sq. ft. facility. Party patrons may remember shopping in the store when it was in Colony Mall, then on the "jazz walk" on E. College St. across from SFA, in the strip center at 3500 North St. at the Lakewood St. intersection, in the fourth location at the intersection of Main St. and University Dr., then for 17 years on Mitchell and now, at Northview Plaza in what some may remember as the dollar movie theater.
"Maury has grown the business and continues to provide Nacogdoches with the latest and most innovative products," said Joe Aguilar, CPA and partner at Axley & Rode, LLP. "She has never thought inside the box."
In 2008, a phone conversation with a Space Walk recruiter led to the decision to bring the franchise Space Walk of East Texas in to Party 'N Things. Maury's husband Tracy Littleton handles the giant inflatable rental business fulltime and quite well - currently reaching a number three ranking in the state of Texas up against the same line of products in much larger markets including Houston and Dallas.
"I have seen a lot of ups and downs," Maury said. "One of my hardest days was waking up and realizing I was the sole owner of Party 'N Things." She gives credit to friends, family and local business people for helping her through a rough transition with advice and guidance through legal business steps that made it possible for her to take care of her business.
"I’ve worked with Maury for many years. She’s a confident and persistent business woman," Aguilar said. "Her genuine love for children and her creative thinking has proven to be a successful combination."
Today Party ’N Things offers:
· Rental of inflatables, concessions, table clothes, glass vases, wedding items and countless other supplies for a variety of events.
· Balloon deliveries.
· Indoor bounce and party space that can be used for get-togethers ranging from rehearsal dinners to teen dances and toddler parties.
· A costume section with thousands of costumes available all year.
· Custom printing done in 24 hours for invitations, napkins, banners, cups, wine glasses, water bottles, mugs and tumblers.
· A party supply section with over 23 solid colors of plates, napkins, cups, forks and plastic table covers.
· More than 40 different themes in party supplies with the newest theme updated regularly.
· More than 250 different styles of Mylar balloons and 30 different Mylar shapes.
· Activity stations to bring a child and have fun, from tattoos, make your own lip gloss, make your own body scrub, make your own body spray, or make your own animal in Animal Land, pucker powder or fill up your own bouncy ball.
· Unique toys for all ages. Customers can browse the selection or call and the perfect gift can be wrapped and ready for pick up.
While Party 'N Things is full of surprises, Maury has a very obvious philosophy of customer care. "I try to constantly keep in mind that we are here as a business, but we can also make a difference in people's lives every day," Maury said. "I am so fortunate to have good people in my life, and I never thought I would come this far."
The past five Small Business of the Year Award recipients are:
2013 - Jack Backers College Bookstore
2012 - Heart of Texas Gift Gallery
2011 - Kline's Printing & Office Products
2010 - Laine's Hallmark
2009 - Glass Castles Stained Glass Studio & Gifts