If variety is the spice of life, then Party Inc. is so diverse it might as well be the UN. Red Chinese lanterns, pastel lamps like you would see at a party in Malibu and “Frozen” party sets that seem to be at every five-year-old-girl’s birthday. The air-con and the quiet speakers playing 80s party hits are a world away from the hot and sweaty hunt in Cholon for a decorative item or two. The English-speaking shop assistants offer some suggestions on how to make my upcoming birthday party better. I opt for some glitter top hats in bold colors, glow sticks and several Hawaiian skirts for the drinking competition planned.
I meet My An, the owner, when she comes back from an errand and she tells me what I already know—sourcing party supplies in Vietnam is a trial of frustration and ultimate failure. Opened 18 months ago, her shop has a fully-functioning showroom, an online delivery site for those too busy to visit the shop, and they can even help plan events.
When she arrived in Vietnam there were more house parties happening, and a tighter knit group of expats. She soon became a guaranteed invite at celebrations because everyone knew she could dress a room with impossible-to-find pom-poms, honeycombs and stylish centerpieces. “For my friends’ children’s’ birthdays, we ran around town the entire month before the party looking for the right materials and then having to color, paint, cut, glue to create pom-poms and paper fans and party hats,” she says. “Pulling together one party took ten times the effort here than it did in the US, so I thought why not make party decorations easier. Hence, we opened Party inc.”
“The best ideas always come out of something you are passionate about. Your customers can tell when you’re doing something you love,” she says. After trawling the local markets and craft shops for years, she knew that a one-stop shop was needed. “Throwing a party should be fun, not stressful. Going to Cholon to bargain with this vendor for this and that vendor for that is incredibly time consuming, and always coming away with the job half-finished was unsatisfying.”
“We used to be in D4 and have chosen a much better location for the new shop, that still keeps the rent low, so products are affordable. So we are focusing on online retailing. Online is a channel for the busy person with a job and kids,” she adds, “that makes it easy to order what you know you need and maybe find something you didn’t know about. We have a lot of work to do to increase the content on our site – videos, tutorials and décor ideas, but we are getting there.”
You can find Party Inc. at 385 Tran Hung Dao, D1 (a five-minute drive from Ben Thanh Market).