Olivera Bratich in her Clintonville store, Wholly Craft, on June 22, 2016.

This Chick Knows How to Party

“The first party I remember going to? It was in first grade and someone’s parents rented out the McDonald’s Playland and we all got Happy Meals.” It’s important to remember that back then—pre-Super Size Me and pre-locavore mania—going to McDonald’s was a magical thing, all those perfectly wrapped wee burgers, the cartoon clan of Ronald himself and clumsy Grimace, and the small toy surprises in each meal.
That was a party.

Olivera Bratich is flipping back through her virtual shindig scrapbook as she gets ready to unveil the Surprise! Modern Party & Cocktail Goods shop at the end of this month. “When I was 12 years old… there is video tape of this somewhere… I had a party where everyone had to dress as 1940s characters,” she laughed. “There was a plotline and everything… that’s still my favorite kind of party.”
As she grew up, Bratich hosted Women’s History Month parties to which guests would come dressed as different inspiring women. “My favorites were the groups that came, like ‘The First Ladies.’”
The head and heart of the DIY epicenter of Columbus, Wholly Craft, Bratich has wanted to do something new for a long time. With the 10th anniversary of the Clintonville shop in the rearview mirror, the time has come. “I love Wholly Craft and will be with it as long as it will have me, but it is not scalable,” she explained. “It’s very much of Clintonville and I love that… I love that we have individual relationships with over 400 artists.”
Surprise! will bring Bratich to the Short North which, she commented, has the best parties. “People host parties around Highball, Pride, Doo Dah…” The shop will have a BYOB (Build Your Own Banner) bar and will have grab-and-go readymade supplies and DIY kits. There will be party packages, as well as vintage and new barware to set up a “swanky little home bar.”
“There are some people who, for example, when asked to host a baby shower are super excited and browse around,” she said. “And then there is the friend that dreads it—what do I do? We will be able to put the entire party in a box, all pre-coordinated for 12, 24, whatever people.”
Just as Wholly Craft tapped into the burgeoning craft movement, Surprise! is also mining the creative vein that is flowing through Columbus. “People are looking for creative experiences in their interactions with each other,” she said. “What sets us apart is that we view party planning as a creative endeavor—all the details and memorable touches, we can help you with that.”
Part of the inspiration for Surprise! was Bratich’s experience finding party products herself. “I ended up at this big box party supply store, and it was terrible—everything was cheesy and cheaply made, no one was happy to be working there. It was like, ‘Here’s your balloon.’”
Taking advice from her favorite band, Boston, whose lyric, “You know it’s now or never, take a chance on rock ‘n roll,” is Bratich’s personal go-to motto, Surprise! will have a soft-opening the last week of this month, with a blowout celebration during the August 6 Gallery Hop.

Surprise! Modern Party and Cocktail Goods will be located at 941 N High St. Like the shop on Facebook, or visit
surprisemodernparty.com to keep up with its progress.