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The founder of Party City blamed the retailer’s collapse into bankruptcy on mismanagement by private equity firms — claiming that they jacked up prices despite the company’s roots as a discounter.Steve Mandell, who launched the chain in 1986 with a single store in East Hanover, NJ, pinned the retailer’s implosion on a lack of bargains and variety at its stores — a problem he c...
The founder of Party City blamed the retailer’s collapse into bankruptcy on mismanagement by private equity firms — claiming that they jacked up prices despite the company’s roots as a discounter.
Steve Mandell, who launched the chain in 1986 with a single store in East Hanover, NJ, pinned the retailer’s implosion on a lack of bargains and variety at its stores — a problem he claims was created when private equity executives locked it into a large supply deal with a manufacturer they already owned for roughly 80% of its supply.
“They [new owners] took out the top two things that made this company very special,” Mandell told The Post in an exclusive interview. “First, we were the discount party superstore. Today, it is not a discount store. The prices are top dollar.”
“Second, Party City had great variety,” he added.
That changed in 2005, according to Mandell, when Party City was bought by private equity firms Berkshire Partners and Weston Presidio. They also owned the party supply manufacturer Amscan, essentially giving it a monopoly.
“Party City did away with competition,” the 78-year-old Mandell said. “All of the innovation is long gone. That is a huge problem.”
Still, the model worked for nearly two decades. In 2012, Thomas H. Lee Partners bought the company for $584 million down in a $2.69 billion deal, investing only 22% in equity. The following year, the owners had Party City borrow $338 million to pay themselves a dividend.
Party City’s leading market position and 35% profit margins made it relatively easy for a few years to take the excess cash to pay loans. Then the company went public in 2015, and its market share began to erode from big-box competitors like Walmart, Target and pop-up shops like Spirit Halloween.
It also didn’t have much wiggle room to offer better prices than its rivals.
“If you can’t afford to give discounts, maybe you can’t afford to be in business,” Mandell told The Post in a phone interview from his home in Florida.
Profits fell sharply in the last several years.
The leveraged buyouts and the loans helped balloon the company’s debt to $1.67 billion before Party City filed for bankruptcy last week. The chain has 823 stores nationwide and 16,330 full- and part-time employees.
“Party City’s financial restructuring will address a legacy debt load that predates the Company’s IPO in 2015 and enable the business to emerge financially stronger and better positioned to build on its market leadership,” a Party City spokesperson told The Post on Wednesday.
Private equity firms Thomas H. Lee and Weston Presidio declined comment. Berkshire Partners did not return calls.
Party City CEO Brad Weston blamed inflation and supply chain issues for the company’s failures. Mandell claims he was blown off by Weston three years ago after trying to offer advice.
“The average sale price is too low for inflation to have a big impact,” Mandell countered. “It’s a great excuse.”
He pointed to Party City’s failures to maximize profits during the key Halloween period, which represents about one-quarter of the company’s sales.
“Spirit Halloween opened 1,400 stores this fall and were unfazed by the pandemic,” Mandell said. “Party City had 100 Halloween City pop-up stores.”
Mandell lost control of the company he founded in 1999 — three years after taking the company public. He had blamed the then-CFO for not tracking inventory correctly, leading the company to not file a 1998 audit on time.
That caused its shares to crash, and investor Michael Tennenbaum took control of the business for a relatively low price after it was delisted.
Mandell is now planning his next venture, a cookie company that makes personalized treats for corporate clients, weddings and birthdays. He will launch Incredible Cookies.com next month.
“No one is focused on this space,” Mandell said.
National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) 2022 Year-End Special Edition – issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New HampshireEAST HANOVER, N.J., Jan. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- January 23, 2023. The year 2022 was a remarkable and historic time for the employment of people with disabilities. That's according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) 2022 Year-End Special Edition, issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), based on data ...
National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) 2022 Year-End Special Edition – issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire
EAST HANOVER, N.J., Jan. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- January 23, 2023. The year 2022 was a remarkable and historic time for the employment of people with disabilities. That's according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) 2022 Year-End Special Edition, issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Reports.
The year 2022 was a remarkable and historic time for the employment of people with disabilities.
Employment trends in 2022 built upon the 2021 recovery from the pandemic recession—where people with disabilities reached beyond pre-COVID-19 levels and even pre-Great Recession levels. These trends are in stark contrast to those of their working counterparts without disabilities who have not yet reached pre-pandemic levels.
The average monthly employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities (ages 16-64) increased from 31.3 percent in 2021 to 34.8 percent in 2022, which was also higher than the 29.1 percent recorded in 2020 (during the height of the pandemic) and 30.9 percent recorded in 2019 (prior to the pandemic).
In contrast, for people without disabilities (ages 16-64), the employment-to-population ratio increased from 72.5 percent in 2021 to 74.4 percent in 2022, which was higher than the 70.0 percent recorded in 2020 but not above the 74.6 percent in 2019. The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).
"Labor shortages across the country meant that there was a disproportionate demand for workers compared to the number of people willing to fill positions. Hiring managers may have needed to break outside of their comfort zones to consider different segments of workers," said nTIDE co-author John O'Neill, PhD, director, Center for Employment and Disability Research, Kessler Foundation. "This likely led to a boon for people with disabilities looking for jobs and becoming employed," he added.
"People with disabilities are not participating in the Great Resignation, unlike their counterparts without disabilities. In fact, people with disabilities never left the labor force during the pandemic," explained nTIDE co-author , professor of economics and research director at the UNH-IOD. "The increase in work-from-home arrangements and greater flexibility in work hours seen during the height of the pandemic may have permanently opened new employment opportunities for people with disabilities," added Dr. Houtenville.
Changes to more flexible work arrangements were confirmed by the findings of the conducted by Kessler Foundation and UNH. In addition, hiring and recruiting people with disabilities was more important to supervisors and upper management in 2022 than in 2017, when compared to the findings of the .
In , the Federal Reserve began trying to slow the economy to control inflation by raising interest rates. The Fed continued to raise interest rates an additional four times through . "Growing inflation rates and rising costs for goods and services almost certainly spurred families to find extra income," said Dr. Houtenville. "People with disabilities must strive to meet their families' needs and their own, especially since at least 25 percent live below the poverty level," he stated, citing the . "There was an interplay of necessity and demand: people with disabilities needed employment dollars and employers needed employees. These factors provided a welcomed opportunity for people with disabilities," added Dr. Houtenville.
Register now for our upcoming nTIDE webinars scheduled for and :
The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the (UNH) was established in 1987 to provide a university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the NIDILRR-funded Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics, visit .
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes – including employment – for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit .
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In what sure feels like an increasing trend in northern New Jersey, Kushner has begun the demolition of an aging suburban office building in East Hanover — the first step in creating a 265-unit luxury apartment complex.The project, at 72 Eagle Rock Ave., is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.The new community will feature a mix of one- to three-bedroom residences housed in four separate four-story buildings — with 53 apartments set...
In what sure feels like an increasing trend in northern New Jersey, Kushner has begun the demolition of an aging suburban office building in East Hanover — the first step in creating a 265-unit luxury apartment complex.
The project, at 72 Eagle Rock Ave., is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.
The new community will feature a mix of one- to three-bedroom residences housed in four separate four-story buildings — with 53 apartments set aside for affordable housing.
Michael Sommer, executive vice president, development and construction, at Kushner, said the project will have great impact in a Morris County town where many are looking for premier residences.
“Today’s groundbreaking is an exciting milestone for our company and for the township, as we take the next step to develop the first luxury rental apartments ever to be constructed in East Hanover,” he said.
“East Hanover is highly desired by residents who appreciate its small-town, suburban charm in the heart of Morris County. We look forward to adding a new, modern residential option that will appeal to both existing residents and those who will be attracted to this incredible location.”
Morris County Commissioner Stephen Shaw said the transformation of outdated office space for much-needed residential is welcomed.
“(This) wasn’t viable before the pandemic,” he said. “But now, after the pandemic, with work from home, it certainly now is extremely outdated. Office vacancy rates in the area are at an all-time high and apartment vacancy is at an all-time low, and there’s an extreme need for housing in this region.
“That’s why I’m delighted to be here today as we witness this vacant, outdated commercial site that’s going to begin the transformation today to become modern, energy-efficient multifamily housing, which is in high demand in this area. The sharp rise in home prices and interest rates have bolstered the appeal of rental properties for everyone from young professionals to empty-nesters, while providing a well-balanced lifestyle through modern amenities and services.”
Kushner officials hope the resident experience will be further enhanced by a robust amenity offering.
A striking clubhouse will serve as the social and recreational heart of the community, with a modern fitness center including a studio for yoga and fitness on demand, a theater room and residents-only clubroom. There also will be expanded work-from-home spaces, including a conference room and coworking rooms.
Outside, residents will enjoy an expansive sun deck and sparkling pool with pergolas, grilling stations, fire pits, a movie screen, pingpong table and a walking path meandering around the scenic property. Other services will include TULU, an on-demand smart rental offering for high-quality household and lifestyle products.
The community’s location is minutes from Interstate 280 — which means it’s close to Newark and New York City. And it’s not far from Morristown, about 8 miles away.
Kushner President Nicole Kushner Meyer feels the property will fill a need.
“It is amazing to see the growth and development that East Hanover has had over the years, and I am proud that we are breaking ground today on a highly designed and fully amenitized multifamily project,” she said. “We have set the bar incredibly high in designing this East Hanover project to appeal to the modern customer.”
EAST HANOVER, NJ - Martha Stewart was there this week when OREO revealed the 'Most OREO OREO.'The 'Most OREO OREO' is packed with the 'Most Stuf' of any OREO to date, but it gets better, this time, the creme contains ground OREO cookies. It is literally a cookie filled with 'Cookies and Creme.'The story gets even more interesting, Mondelez reports that when the cookie is twisted apart, it opens a space in the metaverse for OREO lovers called the OREOVERSE.Sign Up for FREE Nutley NewsletterThe OREO...
EAST HANOVER, NJ - Martha Stewart was there this week when OREO revealed the 'Most OREO OREO.'
The 'Most OREO OREO' is packed with the 'Most Stuf' of any OREO to date, but it gets better, this time, the creme contains ground OREO cookies. It is literally a cookie filled with 'Cookies and Creme.'
The story gets even more interesting, Mondelez reports that when the cookie is twisted apart, it opens a space in the metaverse for OREO lovers called the OREOVERSE.
Sign Up for FREE Nutley Newsletter
The OREOVERSE invites fans to play multiple levels of cookie-themed games and get the chance to win including a $50,000 grand prize. The games range from "Stack Stuf" where fans will build the Most OREO OREO cookie, to "Rocket Stuf" where fans will inflate the Most OREO OREO cookie and aim for the stars. The OREOVERSE can be found in Meta Horizon Worlds or on OREOVERSE.OREO.com.
Everyone in Nutley knows Martha Stewart graduated from Nutley High School with Board of Education Trustee, now we can join her when she and her gardener Ryan McCallister, will stream an inside look at their OREOVERSE experience live on social media Monday.
"I am excited to make my metaverse debut in partnership with one of my favorite cookie brands, OREO, and having Ryan there with me will make it all the more fun," said Stewart. "The two of us have had our fair share of adventures over the last 10 years and have been able to navigate just about anything together, especially in the garden!"
OREO fans can get check out the OREOVERSE in Meta Horizon Worlds using their Meta Quest 2 or Meta Quest Pro headsets, or via mobile phones or desktop computers by visiting OREOVERSE.OREO.com.
The 'Most OREO OREO' cookie is available for pre-sale on OREO.com and will start rolling out on shelves nationwide starting January 30. It will be available for a limited time only.
Local dignitaries and principals from Kushner recently gathered at the site of a former office building to put shovels in the ground for their latest redevelopment project.During a June ceremony, ground was officially broken on a 265-unit luxury apartment community in Morris County’s East Hanover. The land, at 72 Eagle Rock Avenue, will soon be home to four separate buildings featuring a mix of one-to-three-bedroom residences housed in four-story buildings.Designed by Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners, future resi...
Local dignitaries and principals from Kushner recently gathered at the site of a former office building to put shovels in the ground for their latest redevelopment project.
During a June ceremony, ground was officially broken on a 265-unit luxury apartment community in Morris County’s East Hanover. The land, at 72 Eagle Rock Avenue, will soon be home to four separate buildings featuring a mix of one-to-three-bedroom residences housed in four-story buildings.
Designed by Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners, future residents of the as-yet-unnamed complex will be able to enjoy a luxurious clubhouse facility with resort-like indoor and outdoor amenities. The development, which also includes 53 units of affordable housing, is expected to be fully completed during the first quarter of 2025.
“Today’s groundbreaking is an exciting milestone for our company and for the Township as we take the next step to develop the first luxury rental apartments ever to be constructed in East Hanover,” said Kushner’s Executive Vice President of Development and Construction Michael Sommer. “East Hanover is highly desired by residents who appreciate its small-town, suburban charm in the heart of Morris County.”
Kushner says the new project represents an ongoing trend throughout New Jersey and the nation of replacing former commercial properties with residential buildings. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting housing crunch have led many to re-evaluate office complexes, particularly in suburban locations.
“I’m delighted to be here today as we witness a vacant outdated commercial site begin the transformation to modern, energy-efficient multifamily housing which is in high demand,” said Morris County Commissioner Stephen H. Shaw during the ceremony.
Kushner promises a robust amenity program at the future development that includes a modern fitness center, a theatre room, and a residents-only club room. A conference room and co-working rooms will be included for those working from home, while an expansive sun deck will include a pool with pergolas, grilling stations, fire pits, a movie screen, ping-pong tables, and a walking path.
Kushner has been busy in the Garden State as of late, breaking ground just weeks ago on a 307-unit senior housing complex set to rise in the Bergen County borough of Fair Lawn. The company’s largest New Jersey project, the 1,723-unit One Journal Square in Jersey City, is slated to begin its vertical rise in the coming months.