Party's over as popular Sewickley store plans to close
An iconic Sewickley business will soon close its doors.
After 18 years of vibrant window displays filled with bright balloons and seasonal items, Party Ants, 424 Broad St., will close, store owners announced through banners placed in the window last week.
“It's been a fun ride, but the party's over,” co-owner Ding Hays said, while holding back tears.
She owns the store along with her sister, Robin Hays, 58.
“It wasn't an easy decision, (but) it's been in the making,” Ding said.
The women cited retirement, a desire to volunteer more and a sluggish local economy among reasons for their decision to shut down the business.
“Having worked all of our lives … we've never had a chance to get involved in the community,” said Ding, 64.
“My sister finally has accepted that I will be retiring at the same time as her — even though she's six years older,” Robin Hays said, smiling.
A closing date has not been set.
Party Ants opened in 1995 when it began as primarily a party store with a modest selection of toys and gifts. It later offered more toys, games, Pittsburgh-themed items and balloons.
Ding Hays called the store's Pittsburgh gifts a “mini-Strip District.”
When the women do eventually close the store, Ding Hays said she will miss customers and the sales crew of two.
“It wasn't only fun for them, it was fun for us,” she said.
“We have wonderful salespeople. We're just very lucky because I don't think many places can say that their employees have been here all along.”
Marilyn Snyder of Moon and Shelley Gerle Sewickley have been the store's two employees.
Gerle said she'll most miss going into a store hearing a child say, “‘It's the lady from Party Ants.'”
Over the years, as toys came and went, the sisters said Ty Inc.'s Beanie Baby craze of the mid-'90s was the most memorable item on store shelves.
“That was the biggest thing for us,” Ding Hays said.
Upon hearing of the store's imminent closure, the sisters said a group of children created a sign and wanted to raid their piggy banks in an effort to save Party Ants.
“The kids came in with a poster that said ‘Save Party Ants,'” Robin Hays said. “We just stood there and cried.”
Along with customers, the uniqueness of items made the store special for Robin Hays, she said.
“There isn't anything like this around,” she said. “This is for kids young and old.”
Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Bobby Cherry to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sewickley police officer finds new perspective on bike patrol
- Koch: Beautiful things are happening all around — just open your eyes
- Sewickley chamber board losing 2 key members
- Sewickley nonprofit asking: What brings you to town?
- Sewickley’s Village Green Partners gain ground via social media
- Sewickley United Methodist church carnival turns 5