Steve Mandell launched Party City Corp. in 1986 and built it into a publicly traded nationwide chain of party supplies stores that’s also a big online seller and No. 236 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000. He then went on to found and develop online retailer, which his son Erik now runs as CEO.

Now 73, Mandell is still spinning up new businesses but focusing online rather than on brick and mortar. “Putting money into inventory and one warehouse is a lot better than writing a check for $500,000 every time you open a store, and I don’t have to deal with the huge infrastructure and 400 store managers,” he says.

In 2016, two years after resigning as chairman of and selling his stake to his partners, Mandell purchased WH Candy, which was best known for selling Hershey chocolate bars personalized for birthdays or other events. Sellers of personalized candy and party favors were behind the times, he says.

“It was a mom and pop industry…

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