Merging Palisades’ Puzzle Zoo, Party Pizzazz

By Sarah Stockman
Palisades News Reportor

For the past six months, Puzzle Zoo owner Jay Demircift had been look- ing for a new storefront. He had been having trouble finding a place in his price range to relocate the Swarthmore Puzzle Zoo before the Caruso Project begins. He really wanted to keep the store in the Palisades because it had been there for almost 30 years and the town held special meaning for him.

“Palisades was my second store ever,” Demircift said. “I spent a lot of time in the store back in the day. I love the Palisades.”

Puzzle Zoo brothers and partners are Jay (left) and Sean Demircift.

Puzzle Zoo brothers and partners are Jay (left) and Sean Demircift.

During the same time period, Marlee Dressen, the owner of Party Pizzazz on Sunset, had been trying to find someone to take over the store. Although she loved owning the colorful party store for 23 years, she had decided it was time to retire.

“I live in Mid-Wilshire. That commute is terrible, and it only gets worse and worse,” she said. “[And] I think it’s time for someone with fresh, new, younger ideas.”

As fate would have it, their mutual desires crossed paths in May when Demircift happened to walk past Party Pizzazz and saw that it was for sale.

“Initially I just wanted to buy the place and move into the location, but after talking to [Dressen] for awhile . . . I realized she had been there for a long time as well,” Demircift said.

He decided that the space was big enough for both stores to coexist, thus allowing two well-known and well-liked Palisadian stores to remain open.Dressen was delighted with the solution.

“I think the area needs both a party store and a toy store. And this way they can keep both of them and they’ll be together,” she said.

The Palisades Puzzle Zoo is one of five Puzzle Zoos in Southern California, but it will be the first location to sell party supplies. Although party supplies are new to the company, Demircift believes it will work because party supplies tend to match popular toy products.

“Party supplies for kids and so forth are themed merchandise,” Demircift said. “You can have Star Wars paper plates and all the Star Wars party supplies. It makes sense to work it into each other.”

Dressen echoed Demircift’s opinion as one of the reasons why she sold the store to him.

“The whole thing seemed to make sense. It seemed like a good pairing,” she said.

Although Dressen is sad to leave the Palisades, she’s ready to have the time to catch up on everything she needs to do in her house. After that, she’s ready for anything.

“I know that I don’t want to be home all the time,” Dressen said. “I very much liked the Palisades, liked the people, liked the work, hated the drive.”

After Dressen sold the store in late May, Party Pizzazz held a blowout sale in order to clear space in the 2,000-sq.-ft. store for toys. The store closed on July 2 for a weeklong renovation, but won’t remain closed for long.

Puzzle Zoo will officially close its Swarthmore doors on July 10, but will reopen on July 11 in its new location.

Demircift would, ideally, like to move back to Swarthmore after the completion of Caruso’s development, but he’s not sure it will happen.

“I would love to move into a Caruso project, but I know from his other projects that he’s expensive,” he said. “He does a fantastic job, but it doesn’t come cheap.”

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