The Smoky Mountain Balloon Co Shop Talk by mm6889


									  Shop Talk
                                                                 Spotlight On: Sevierville, Tenn.

  Clients can come in and have their photo taken in front of a green screen — transporting them wherever they want
  to go with a selection of backgrounds. Photos: Smoky Mountain Balloon Co.

  The Smoky Mountain Balloon Co.
  Balloon drops and sculptures and bears ... oh, my!
                                                                          By Abby Heugel | Managing Editor

               hat do you get when you combine a             “We asked our Facebook friends to find the
               balloon artist, social networking and       location of our missing bear,” he continued. “The
               a wayward black bear? Why, you get a        winners came to the store to pick up their free bear
  promotion from The Smoky Mountain Balloon Co.            and a gift card to Smoky Mountain Pizza. We made
  on Facebook that increased traffic — in the store,       the gift card for Smoky Mountain Pizza because of
  online and on the streets of Gatlinburg, Tenn.           The 3/50 Project, to help support three local busi-
    “The Smoky Mountains are known for the black           nesses in our area.”
  bear, so we learned how to make a three foot bal-          That area would be Gatlinburg, the wedding
  loon bear, mostly for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s       capital of the south, so the store’s biggest call is
  Day,” said Billy Muncy, CBA and owner of The             for wedding décor. Along with the basics, they do
  Smoky Mountain Balloon Co. “For this promo-              everything from entrance arches for the grand
  tion, we took a picture of the bear, hid it at a cabin   entrance of the wedding party to the head table
  rental company that a friend of mine has and said        in designs such as the “Kissing Swans” that form a
  he got lost.                                             walk-through arch.

10 | August 2010 |
                                                                “Displaying our walk-outs in
                                                               the front window for the most
                                                               exposure gets people to buy on
                                                                          the spot.”

                                                                          Billy Muncy
                                                                   Smoky Mountain Balloon Co.

                                                            balloon decorating, he attended a learnballoon-
 With wedding décor in high demand, they offer every- seminar, studied the Qualatex
 thing from entrance arches to a Honeymoon tub filled       DVDs and attained his CBA certification.
 with heart-shaped balloons.
                                                               He now runs a 2,250-sqaure-foot store that
                                                            includes a loft/design studio and storage. They
                                                            work with the client on preparing for that spe-
                                                            cial day — whether it’s a wedding, birthday or
                                                            corporate event — planning the reception décor
                                                            from the head table to the dance floor. They
                                                            also do large sculptures and pieces for buffets.
                                                               “We have delivery service for the local area
                                                            and offer a variety of ‘walk-outs’ for last-minute
                                                            shoppers to pick up and go, with the choice to
                                                            have the bouquets or walk-out personalized
 The Smoky Mountain Balloon Co. took a picture of its       with an imprinted bow,” Muncy said. “We also
 3-foot balloon bear, hid it around the city and asked
                                                            carry special bows —wedding vow bows with
 their Facebook friends to find the location for a prize.
                                                            the name of the couple and date on the tails or
    “Because there are a large number of cabin rental       a new baby’s name with the date and weight —
 companies in the area that attract tourists coming         the possibilities are endless!”
 back for an anniversary or special occasion, we offer         Another unique service they offer allows
 a romance package with balloons that are lit and a         clients to come in and have their photo taken
 ‘string of pearl’ arch over the bed,” Muncy said. “We      in front of a green screen. They can place them
 even do a Honeymoon tub filled with heart shaped           anywhere they want to go with any of the selec-
 balloons and a string of pearl arch floating above.”       tion of backgrounds.
    It’s about being unique, as Muncy knows that if            “What sells are things that no one else has
 you have the same old things in your store, that’s         seen.” Muncy explained. “Displaying our walk-
 a problem. Changing things up and creating ex-             outs in the front window for the most exposure
 citement will bring customers in just to see what          gets people to buy on the spot, and we also
 you’ve done.                                               make small balloon ‘sculptures’ that can be
                                                            given and used the same as a balloon bouquet.”
                   Grab and Go                                 The walk-out pieces are already made in air,
   Muncy knows all about changing things up,                not helium, so they have a long shelf life. Muncy
 as he started his retail career in the horticulture        said that if they want a foil helium balloon
 field, working at a garden center and taking floral        added in, there is just an upcharge for the extra
 classes. He found he enjoyed working creatively            balloon(s). However, the beauty of these pieces
 with balloons and floral, so to get a foundation in        is that dozens can be made ahead of time for

12 | August 2010 |
 Along with a variety of balloon creations, The Smoky Mountain Balloon Co. also provides custom balloon drops for
 any occasion.

 display and no two are alike.                            photo for the solider and family, a free photo with
   “They’re very different and cause a lot of ‘oohs’      Santa and yellow bows imprinted with ‘Support the
 and ‘aahs’ when the customer first sees them,”           278th Troop,’” Muncy said. “During the parade the
 Muncy said. “Because they are something different,       next day, our bows were being carried and recog-
 the customer immediately sees that their gift will       nized by the onlookers. Not only were we happy
 be special and they usually want to buy one.”            with the attention, we also felt great knowing we
                                                          did an awesome thing for our community.”
                    Air It Out                               They also kicked off the spring season with ‘Kid
   For Muncy, it’s all about getting The Smoky            Print,’ a program that helps parents keep up-to-date
 Mountain Balloon Co. name and product out there          photos and fingerprints for their kids in case of a
 for the public to see — and he proves it can be done     runaway or kidnapping. Along with increased foot
 with nothing more than a quality product, a little       traffic and sales, it also increased community spirit.
 bit of good will and old-fashioned elbow grease.            “And it never hurts to self-promote,” Muncy
   Along with the “missing bear” promotion, they          said. “Send photos (or a centerpiece or balloon
 also held a race for their 200th registered fan          bear) to your local news outlets, as it might result
 on Facebook. Giving out complimentary balloon            in a piece on your company. A local radio station
 bears before Valentine’s Day to local places such        saw our balloon creations and we ended up doing
 as hair salons resulted in an order of 14 bears to       a free TV spot.”
 one lady alone.                                             This combination of the old with the new, the
   They also created a 10-foot Pink Ribbon balloon        face-to-face with site-to-site, is what has helped
 for Hard Rock Cafe in Gatlinburg’s “Pinktober Fest”      The Smoky Mountain Balloon Co. make a name for
 and volunteer to decorate for organizations in need.     itself in the community.
   “We did the family Christmas party for the Local          Well, that and some help from strategically
 278th Troops Send Off where we offered a free            placed inflatable mammals, of course. P

14 | August 2010 |

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