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Celebrations may say goodbye

Party store owner holds out hope as she prepares to close shop

— Sandy Pugh hasn’t given up on Celebrations yet.

Pugh, who owns the party store with her husband, Billy, is holding out hope that someone might be interested in investing in the shop. She opened in 1992 at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue, moving to Riverside Plaza before ending up in Central Park Plaza a year ago. But her expenses are too high, and Sandy Pugh expects to have to close at the end of February.

“I’m still joking around that I’m the Hillary Clinton of the party business, ’cause I’m still in denial,” Pugh said.

Before Celebrations, she planned special events. Pugh opened the store 17 years ago with only costumes. Now, the 4,700-square-foot shop carries balloons, picture frames, toys and even mugs with professional football team logos. Business at the new location was up 30 percent in 2008, Pugh said.

It wasn’t quite enough. She was told in late December that she’d have to leave, but the store will be open through next month.

“The economy being down, sales were not what was anticipated,” Pugh said.

She’s selling items at as much as 50 percent off – cash only. Pugh is keeping most rental costumes and still might run a Halloween store. She plans to continue providing costumes to the area’s high school drama productions and ice-skating shows.

Pugh and Store Manager Carol Herman said they enjoy seeing the same people poke their heads in year after year.

Herman said she’d miss “all the different stuff, the people. You won’t have stuff like this in Steamboat.”

Herman was putting out tropical items near the Mardi Gras aisle Tuesday morning. The grass skirts and bright colors are popular as winter drags on, the women said, but fake hair really flies.

“Mullet wigs and Afros are probably our top sellers,” Pugh said. “We sell hundreds, especially around Halloween. I’d be scared if all the people in town pulled out their mullet wigs.”

Pugh said she planned to sell as much inventory as possible and then offer the store fixtures for purchase. She might sell leftover products online, but she isn’t sure.

They’re not calling it a going-out-of-business sale: It’s the Save Celebrations Campaign, Pugh said.

Although she’s disappointed about closing, Pugh said she was glad to have shared the special moments in residents’ and visitors’ lives.

“We’ve gotten to enjoy people doing scrapbooking; they tell us about their grandparent’s 80th birthday,” Pugh said. “We get to do weddings, births – joining them for their life celebrations.”