Party Time Plus Closes Business
Party Time Plus is permanently closed as a result of COVID-19 economic impacts.
From the very first day of the Governor’s enactment of an emergency status regarding COVID-19, Party Time Plus felt the full brunt of distancing and stay-at-home orders. “One hundred percent of our bookings cancelled as of March 17,” said Lynae Gilbert, COO for the family owned business. Up until then business had been strong for Party Time Pus, a special event company at 3138 Gabel Road, Billings. Business was 15 percent ahead of last year’s first three months, and they were looking at a solidly booked summer.
May through September is normally the busy season for Party Time Plus. They did about 75 percent of their business during those months because that’s when people really gather and plan for parties, weddings, trade shows, graduations, business conferences, concerts, family reunions, etc., for which for 30 years Party Time Plus has been the go-to place for tents, tables, chairs, serving ware and linens. But this summer, very few such events were held as people responded to county health mandates and faced fear and uncertainty about the coronavirus.
While having struggled through their busy season with but a trickle of their normal business, now that they are facing what is typically their slow season with still more mandates prohibiting events and gatherings, there is simply no way to continue business. “People aren’t gathering,” said Gilbert, and “that’s what a special event does.”
“We would be at less than 50 percent of gross revenue,” explained Gilbert, “We can’t make up that difference.”
In the first round of closures, CARE Act funding helped keep their doors open, but that funding is long gone and no more seems likely.
Faced with continued restrictions and an uncertainty that Gilbert called “complete and utter chaos,” Gilbert said her family had to decide how deep into debt they wanted to go to try to save the business. Deciding that they wanted to make sure that they could pay “all to whom we owe in a timely manner”, the decision was made that they wanted to “navigate” their exit while they could, rather than be “complete victims of it.”
“It was a heartbreaking decision,” said Gilbert.
Caught up in the tragedy of it all were eight full time and one part time employee whose jobs are no more, and that is not including the 20 employees that are normally hired during the busy season but were not this summer.
“Clients have been kind and gracious,” said Gilbert, who expressed her family’s gratitude for all the support the community has given them over the years.
Party Time Plus was founded in 1986 and Gilbert’s family purchased the business in February 2006.
A liquidation sale is planned but details have not been determined and will be announced later.