Whether you’re plan­ning a birth­day party or an 80s prom, Leben Nor­rie is the man for the job. Nor­rie sat down with re­porter to talk about what goes on be­hind the scenes of the party business.

Jess Lee

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Hal­loween, Thanks­giv­ing, Chi­nese New Year – there’s no oc­ca­sion that Leben Nor­rie doesn’t cel­e­brate.

‘‘Even if it’s not ap­pli­ca­ble to my life­style I cel­e­brate it. On World Veg­e­tar­ian Day I eat the big­gest steak I can find,’’ he says.

Nor­rie has been help­ing Auck­lan­ders cel­e­brate mile­stones and events at party su­per­store Party Mad since he was just 16.

His par­ents started the store in 1995 be­fore the Tap­per fam­ily bought the Kings­land business eight years ago.

The store stocks ev­ery­thing from wigs and tinsel to pinatas and adult nov­el­ties for hen’s nights.

No two days are the same, the 29-year-old says.

Staff do ev­ery­thing from help­ing to plan a birth­day party to or­gan­is­ing events for char­i­ties like Ron­ald McDon­ald House and dec­o­ra­tions for shop­ping malls.

‘‘We might deal with five kids’ birth­day par­ties in one day but not one of them would be a re­peat of the last.

‘‘Even if two peo­ple are hav­ing a Spi­derman theme, it will still be com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

‘‘Some­times it comes down to peo­ple’s imag­i­na­tion, or lack of, and that’s where we step in and show them what they could do with what­ever they’ve got to spend.’’

The store’s busiest time of year is from Hal­loween through to De­cem­ber 15. Gi­ant bal­loons are their big­gest seller.

Nor­rie says cel­e­bra­tions have al­ways been a huge deal for his fam­ily, so it was no sur­prise they ended up in the party trade.

His mum dreamed up the business after a trip to the United States.

‘‘There were heaps of party shops over there and there was noth­ing like that here in New Zealand at the time.

‘‘I think we were the first party shop to open up in Auck­land,’’ Nor­rie says.

Sun­days as a teenager were spent man­ning the shop with his brother and pulling pranks on each other and the cus­tomers.

Nowa­days the am­a­teur co­me­dian spends less time on the shop floor and more time help­ing the company’s cor­po­rate and whole­sale cus­tomers.

He loves his job but Nor­rie would one day like to put his en­ter­tain­ing skills to work on the stage full­time.

‘‘My pas­sion is en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple which has al­ways come into play work­ing here. I would love to be able to be a full­time co­me­dian but where I am right now is a real awe­some, happy place for me,’’ he says.

‘‘I’m one of those few peo­ple who can say nine out of 10 days I come out of work re­ally happy.’’

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