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.
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.’’