Business

It's time to Party! Party!

"Sharing space in Party Party is Rae Claybourne's wedding and event planning service, Fleur de Fete. Some of her favorite rental items are these handpainted tabletoppers.Joan Soltys/staff photosJust like everyone else, Whidbey Islanders love parties. But not like everyone else, Whidbey partygivers haven't had a place nearby that could fulfill all their party requirements.Maureen and Ray Cooke have changed that. In February the Cookes opened Party! Party!, a shop on Second Street in Langley. The store specializes in parties (of course), particularly special events and weddings.We have everything you need to rent for a wedding or large function, Maureen Cooke said. Tables, chairs, flatware, china, glassware, wine and water goblets, serving pieces. And we deliver it all anywhere on the island.The word about Party! Party! got out immediately.We opened on a Friday and on Saturday four caterers were at the door, Cooke said. They were thrilled to have service on the island.Already, she said, she is committed for weddings in April, May, July, August and September.The shop also carries a big selection of paper party goods for sale, for celebrations ranging from a child's birthday party to those (dreaded) over-the-hill parties, cocktail receptions or just a neighborhood get together.We have balloon bouquets, blowouts, cocktail and luncheon napkins and kids' themes, Cooke said. These have endearing names like Construction Zone, Fire 911, Prancing Pony, Little Gymnast and Honk Honk Beep Beep, with decorations and party favors ranging from hard hats and mini-fire engines to Hello Kitty toys and auto racing flags. Specialty papers and tissues are also in stock.In a separate corner of Party Party is the wedding planning service of Rae Claybourne, called Fleur de Fete. Claybourne, who owned Violet Fields until recently, has a background of 18 years in special event planning. She can help clients with wedding sites, flowers and accessories, and her shop has many examples of handmade invitations, guest books and albums, candelabra, linens, and event niceties. I have favors that are both whimsical and elegant, Claybourne said, pointing to silk metallic bags, heart fizzers, and porcelain ornaments. Other unusual items include handkerchief cards, seed packets, die-cut place cards, table comment books, tiny picture frames.Fancy table toppers create an elegant feel, Claybourne said. She has runners and tablecloths that are handpainted, fine European ribbons and trims, and floral garlands. Fleur de Fete can even supply topiary trees and greenery.The combination of Party Party and Fleur de Fete allows complete wedding or party planning, Cooke noted. The new store is also an extension of Gourmet Cookes -- formerly the Kitchen Shoppe and British Shoppe. People calling either store can be transferred to the other.Gourmet Cookes underwent its own expansion last May, when the walls were opened up to allow better shopping flow and new products were added.We have fabulous cheeses, pates, specialty olive oils and vinegars and spices, Callebaut chocolate. It's a bit like DeLaurenti's in the (Pike Place) market, Cooke said. The store still carries its collection of cookware and accessories, with the newly added Good Grips tools -- great gadgets, Cooke called them. And lovers of British foods -- such as British bangers and steak and kidney pie --can still find those in the shop.Cooke said she and Claybourne are contemplating a grand opening type of celebration at the site of Party Party.What better place to hold a party, and showcase all our goods and talents? Cooke asked. "

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