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Small Business Briefing

Vintage party suppliers cash in on nostalgia Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz .

If your child is obsessed with reruns of The Flintstones, and insists on having a theme birthday party, you may have a problem. The probability of finding plates featuring the modern stone age family at your local party supplier is low.

But Jennifer Sherwood and Adam Schlain saw this potential conundrum as an opportunity, so they started HardToFindPartySupplies.com, according to a story in The Detroit Free Press. The Virginia-based company sells birthday party supplies featuring vintage cartoon characters, movies and TV shows.

Starting a ‘nostalgic’ business can be lucrative, but also difficult. When we wrote about Pop Shoppe in the Report on Small Business magazine, Brian Alger – the entrepreneur who relaunched the brand in 2004 – acknowledged that boomer nostalgia alone couldn’t carry his venture.

But for now, Ms. Sherwood and Mr. Schlain seem to be doing just fine. When they started two and a half years ago, they had $20,000 worth of inventory stored a bedroom. Now they have hundreds of thousands of obscure party supplies stored in a 4,000-square-foot warehouse, and their eight employees ship 100 packages daily.

But don’t expect them to tell you where they find the Goosebumps vintage paper table cover or the colourful Lambchop loot bags any time soon. “That’s probably what we are most protective of,” says Mr. Schlain.

Square unleashes ‘Business in a Box’

Square, the San Francisco-based company that we featured in our Game Changers series, has just announced that it is launching ‘Business in a Box.’ According to The Wall Street Journal, the package, which retails at $299 (U.S.), includes a cash drawer, an iPad stand and card readers. For $599, it comes with a printer for printing receipts.

In this Q&A, the company’s vice president Jesse Dorogusker explains the goal of the new products.

New film explores employee-owned businesses

A new documentary exploring different employee ownership models – has just been released by the Foundation for Enterprise Development. We the Owners: Employees Expanding the American Dream , features the founders and employee owners from three businesses: New Belgium Brewing, Namasté Solar, and DPR Construction., and demonstrates how to build and share ownership, link risk and reward and work collaboratively to be profitable, innovative and sustainable. To view the trailer, or to learn more about the film, click here .

KEY EVENTS AND DATES

Communitech’s Tech Leadership Conference

Featuring a keynote speech by Seth Godin, TLC is the largest annual all-day gathering of tech community professionals in Waterloo Region. The event takes place on Mar. 7 at Bingemans Conference Centre.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Alberta: A restaurant entrepreneur’s heaven

The province has a reputation as a good place to try new eatery concepts, helped by low taxes and high disposable income

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Accidental entrepreneurs find purpose, and success They may never have dreamed of being their own boss , but many forced into starting their own business after being laid off are doing better than they ever imagined

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