Wright's Party Supplies
2611 Market Street, Grant Hill
There really was a Mr. Wright -- George B. Wright, to be exact, but that was over 50 years ago. He owned a store located on Fifth and Island, canning jams, jellies and party punch. Meanwhile, Albert Morales emigrated from Mexico City to San Diego in the 1920s. He was 11. Several years he washed canning jars for Mr. Wright and didn't get paid. Times were tough, so he took IOUs, eventually bought out Mr. Wright, and in 1951 built the party-supply warehouse at its location on Market Street, east of downtown. Never did change the store name. Over the years, Morales phased out the jams and jellies and concentrated on cake decorating and party supplies, building up a clientele. He's 90 now, and up until a few months ago tended store every day with his employees, some of whom have worked for Morales over 30 years. His prices still beat the pants off the chain party stores (he has no rent to pay) and his selection includes hard-to-find classics such as hand-painted Chinese paper lanterns ($1.89 for a package of two) and 1950s-style Halloween decorations, for which hipster boutiques charge you dearly. Go there to buy some purple paper plates, come home with an abalone shell and starfish -- perfect for the bathroom grotto.