NEWS

> BY CHAR­LIE SMITH

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - > BY CHAR­LIE SMITH

For four decades the Party Bazaar (orig­i­nally Bazaar & Novelty) has been out­fit­ting Van­cou­verites for Hal­loween and other cel­e­bra­tions, but the fun will end af­ter a mas­sive two-month blowout sale.

For four decades, the Party Bazaar (for­merly Bazaar & Novelty) has been the place to buy Hal­loween cos­tumes in Van­cou­ver. Over the years, it’s been vis­ited by the Sedins, for­mer pre­mier Christy Clark, and goalie Roberto Luongo, as well as many thou­sands of lesser-known lo­cal res­i­dents.

The Party Bazaar was launched in 1977 when pi­o­neer­ing fe­male en­tre­pre­neur Wynne Gor­man bought the car­ni­val busi­ness from Neonex, which was pre­vi­ously owned by Van­cou­ver busi­ness­man Jimmy Pat­ti­son. The store has been at 1296 Sta­tion Street for seven years, and be­fore that it was on West 2nd Av­enue close to what is now the Olympic Vil­lage.

In an in­ter­view in her sec­ond-floor of­fice just east of Sky­train’s Main Street–sci­ence World Sta­tion, Gor­man re­calls times when cus­tomers would be lined up around the block at the for­mer lo­ca­tion in an­tic­i­pa­tion of pur­chas­ing their Hal­loween out­fits. Nowa­days, that isn’t a prob­lem, be­cause there’s a large park­ing lot in front of the 12,000-square-foot build­ing.

“I know that we were re­ally the first Hal­loween store in Van­cou­ver,” Gor­man says.

But Gor­man de­cided to close the Party Bazaar on Novem­ber 4 be­cause the prop­erty is be­ing re­de­vel­oped into an of­fice build­ing.

“We are go­ing to have a big sale and a big Hal­loween—and then we’re go­ing to have a big party,” she says.

That clos­ing sale has al­ready started, with 25 per­cent off ev­ery­thing. Some sea­sonal items have been marked down 80 per­cent, and all chil­dren’s cos­tumes are 50 per­cent off.

“We want those kids to have the best Hal­loween,” Gor­man says. “We’re ba­si­cally go­ing to blow that stuff out of here as quickly as we can.”

She isn’t singing the blues. That’s be­cause she’s too busy pre­par­ing for the fi­nal two months in ad­vance of va­cat­ing the site on Novem­ber 15.

She con­cedes that it was im­pos­si­ble to find an­other Van­cou­ver lo­ca­tion af­ford­able enough for her to con­tinue.

“It’s bit­ter­sweet,” Gor­man says. “I’ve been work­ing since I was 10, so I did my 60 years. I’ll miss the peo­ple and I re­ally will miss Hal­loween.”

She praises her 20 staff mem­bers for their loy­alty and many years of ser­vice, not­ing that half of them have been with her for at least 15 years. Over the Hal­loween sea­son, she gen­er­ally hires an­other 20 peo­ple.

“I’ve been very lucky with the staffing,” Gor­man em­pha­sizes. “They’ve made this busi­ness, be­cause if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be in busi­ness.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, Gor­man sold ink dab­bers and other prod­ucts used in bingo, as well as party sup­plies. When the gov­ern­ment set up the B.C. Lottery Cor­po­ra­tion in the mid-1980s, she ramped up the cos­tume busi­ness, as well as the sale of bal­loons and other car­ni­val items.

The Party Bazaar has done a brisk busi­ness in cos­tumes for a range of events, in­clud­ing St. Pa­trick’s Day par­ties, Vaisakhi, and Ok­to­ber­fest. She has also wit­nessed Hal­loween evolve over the years into much more of an adult cel­e­bra­tion. In fact, cus­tomers who vis­ited the store with their par­ents and grand­par­ents are all grown up and are buy­ing for them­selves.

She adds that the Party Bazaar has also had very good New Year’s busi­ness. But the favourite item of them all is bal­loons, which are sold year-round.

“That re­ally has been ex­pand­ing.”

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