After seven decades of serving the metro-east, the party isn’t over at Tribout’s, but the family-owned company does plan on changing the way it does business in the future.
The party, bingo and supply store, located at 517 S. Illinois St., will close the retail side of the business in a few months to focus on larger events, wholesales, nonprofit fundraisers, and bingo, owners Denny Tribout and Shelly Korves said Thursday.
“You know what, we just have to make smart business decisions,” Korves said. “That’s what this is.”
A closeout sale for retail inventory is expected to begin on President’s Day, Feb. 18, and could end May 1. Wholesales for Queen of Hearts, bingo and roll ticket supplies will continue online and by appointment only. Carnivals, Santa’s Kottage, Bingo, Glo Bingo, and Xtreme Bar Bingo coordination and support will also continue.
“From a nostalgia point, we hate this,” Korves said sitting in a conference room at the store. “Our grandparents started it and we’ve been a part of Belleville for 73 years.”
The brother-sister duo-run business was founded by their grandparents, Ed and Erna Tribout, in 1946. The business was one of the first places in Belleville to offer helium balloons. Offering a wide range retail party supplies came later, but today that’s not the company’s bread and butter, Korves and Tribout explained.
“In some ways, we do feel like we are returning to our roots” Korves said. “They started wholesale only and by appointment only.”
Blowing up helium balloons and selling party supplies wasn’t enough to keep the retail side of the business afloat, Korves said. The retail store needed more foot traffic to remain open. On top of that, customers weren’t buying party supplies online from Tribout’s, even though the store spent countless hours uploading merchandise on its website.
Every item in the store was available on the website, but business couldn’t compete with online competitors and big box stores.
“Unfortunately, we’re not Amazon,” Tribout said. “And unfortunately we don’t have the time to dedicate to online.”
After the retail side of the business closes, the family will continue work out of the building on South Illinois Street where a replica of its iconic mural will remain out front.
The mural was painted sometime in the early 1950s by Charlie Wiesen on a building on West Main Street. He signed the work, “C.A. Wiesen Signs.”
The circus mural perhaps was most famous as a direction for people who wanted to meet at the beginning of the annual Shriner’s Parade down Main Street.
But it is safe to say that nearly everyone who grew up in Belleville was familiar with it. It was torn down in 2009.
BND staff writer Wally Spiers contributed to this report.