Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie Thomas .
Hi Annie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I have been working in EMS for 4 years, and unfortunately, the pay is not great, so I knew I wanted to find something that I could do on the side that was not in EMS, sometimes having a side job doing the same work leads to burnout. I was in Paramedic school for 18 months. I graduated in December of 2021 when a friend of mine mentioned to me just before the holidays that he and his wife were considering selling their company, Shore Celebrations. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to purchase the business. This type of industry had taken off when COVID hit because it allowed people to celebrate with each other from a distance, but it has held firm even after restrictions have been lifted. It is such a fun and easy way to bring your event, party, gathering, or whatever it is that you are celebrating to the next level. People have been putting balloons on mailboxes for years to mark where a party is, so to me, this is just a BIGGER way to say “Here’s the party!” and many people use it for that. Our biggest market is birthdays, but we have a massive influx when graduation season rolls around. But, we have had people rent our signs for Fathers day, anniversaries, baby showers, teacher appreciation, welcome back to school, and welcome home; we have seen them for many different occasions. Established initially business on the Eastern Shore, I have worked very hard to expand into Anne Arundel County since purchasing it in January of this year. It has been slow-moving, but we are starting to see business take hold, having signed as far north as Linthicum.
I still work full-time as Paramedic, so my girlfriend, Emily Cooke( Co-owner), helps me when I am on shift. She’s a real trooper because most of this business occurs in the evenings. We do our best to include the element of surprise in the sign install, so unless it is for an event taking place during the day, like a golf tournament, we will go out close to dark to install the sign, so the recipient sees it on the morning of their birthday.
The signs are made of coroplast, which is weather resistant. The signs are staked into the yard, leaving behind no damage to grass or landscapes. We install and break it down, so the recipients/people ordering doesn’t have to do any work. We have a large inventory that allows people to tailor the signs to fit the person they are ordering for. There are several different colors to be chosen from, and we also have what is called a flare; these are additional pieces we include around the sign to personalize it even more. We have a long list of flares that ranges from unicorns to pickup trucks!
We hope to see this continue for years to come. It is such an excellent way for people to celebrate any event they have in their lives. Life is short; CELEBRATE IT!
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I only purchased it in January, but there have certainly been some bumps in the road. Our biggest enemy is the wind. I am not sure if it was exponentially windier this year or I was paying more attention, but it put a damper on business. The signs are susceptible to being blown over when the wind is blowing over 20mph. I improvised and used stakes and things to make them more stable, but unfortunately, we had to cancel a few due to the weather.
What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Do not bend on your prices. When I started, I felt bad asking people for money, so I was lowballing. This economy is not forgiving, especially with gas pricing on the rise. I drive ALOT. So, I charge what I charge, which is a fair price for the product and the travel costs I calculate. If people want something, they will get it, and we have had no problem remaining afloat. At the same time, I understand that this may not be something everyone is willing to spend extra money on, and that is ok too. You can’t stay in business giving things away for free, and I am a giving person, so this was a bit uncomfortable to navigate.
- Base price is $90
- Travel costs are included, they vary.
- Website: https://shorecelebrations.com/
- Instagram: @shorecelebrations1
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shorecelebrations/
- Other: Google us!