As Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr Friday, they are getting a helping hand from the party supply store Party City. The company says it has become the first national retail chain in the U.S. to offer a range of decorations for the holiday.
- Eid: Celebration at the end of Ramadan, eating and socializing after a month of fasting.
- Party City now offers an array of items to celebrate Eid.
- Hallmark and Macys have also targeted the Muslim market.
- Some believe the decision to be a sound business decision.
- Others say it may be an attempt to mainstream the faith.
For the first time, a major American retailer is offering a dedicated line of decorations for the holiest month on the Islamic calendar: Ramadan, which culminates in the Eid al-Fitr celebration.
The retailer, Party City, which has about 850 locations, mostly in the United States, was motivated to create the items because customers kept requesting them, Ryan Vero, the company’s president of retail, said this week. “We are always seeking insights from our store teams who are engaging with our customers every day,” said Mr. Vero, who called these customers underserved when it comes to party supplies.
Party City’s Ramadan items, which were designed by its internal product innovation team, have been selling well online — many items have sold out — and will be available by Saturday in some stores in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Sugar Land, Tex.
The announcement is welcome news to many Muslims gearing up for the holiday, which begins on May 16 and ends at sundown on June 14 — the start of the Eid al-Fitr party that goes through June 15.
“I’m really excited about it,” Huda Khwaja, 20, of Atlanta, said of Party City’s effort. “It makes me feel like we’re less of an oddity.”
Ms. Khwaja, a recent college graduate, has been decorating for Ramadan her whole life. Her parents wanted the holiday to be meaningful and fun for her and her seven younger siblings, she said. Their decorations were usually homemade and consisted of signs, chain links and streamers all made of paper, as well as twinkle lights, she said.
Party City’s new line includes tableware, banners, decals, gift bags and balloons in purple, blue, green and gold, and embellished with mosques and the star and crescent symbol.
To some degree, Ms. Khwaja’s parents were ahead of the curve. Adorning a home for Ramadan and the Eid is not necessarily traditional for Muslims, but it has become increasingly popular.
“I converted to Islam in 2001, and I definitely see a big difference,” said Jittaun Jones, 39, of Elk Grove, Calif., the mother of two young boys. “In the last 10 years, more and more people with kids find it really important to go all out because Christmas is such a big deal, and holidays are such a big deal.”
Mariam Abdelgawad, 29, who has three young children, agreed that decorating helps Muslim families contend with the hype around the December holidays, and helps children feel connected to their religion and culture while also being American.
During Ramadan, adults, as well as girls and boys who have reached the age of religious observance, abstain from food and drink, including water, during daylight hours and focus on contemplation, devotion and remembrance of God.
The decorations help excite the children who are not yet fasting, said Ms. Abdelgawad, who lives in Santa Clara, Calif. She expands her collection yearly, she said, often buying from sites like Etsy, where hundreds of thousands of crafters sell homemade goods. “I try not to overdo it,” she said, but “it’s so exciting, I want to buy everything.”
The Party City website has recently been shared among different Muslim groups, Ms. Abdelgawad said, adding that people often pass around information on how to find new decorations this time of year.
Aside from the Oriental Trading Company, Party City does not have a lot of direct competition in the party-goods market. As for Ramadan decorations, its only major competitors are Etsy and Amazon, which both offer a good variety.
A search of the online stores of Oriental Trading Company and Target, as well as of the arts-and-crafts companies Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, did not turn up any Ramadan or Eid decorations. Walmart’s online store had a random assortment of tapestries, tablecloths, pillows and ornaments.