Advertising Mix-Up Causes Problems at Princess Party

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An advertising mistake caused confusion at a princess party at Mahalo’s Coffee and Mini Donuts in West Des Moines. (WHO-HD)

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  —  An advertising mix-up at a West Des Moines coffee shop forced the owner to turn away dozens of customers from a popular event.

On Sunday, Mahalo’s Coffee and Mini Donuts hosted a princess party. The owner had planned for about 20 families to attend due to limited space, but instead dozens more showed up to the event that required pre-registration and a $20 cover charge.

“We didn’t really find out about [the advertising] until we had people coming into our shop by the droves to see Moana, and I’m like, ‘where are all these people coming from?’” says Mahalo’s owner Troy Schall.

The event was advertised by the Des Moines Parent Magazine and later picked up the by Des Moines Register, but the ad failed to mention the event’s requirements and gave the illusion it was free.

Schall says he gave advertisers all the right information, but says he never authorized the ad or had a chance to proofread it. Instead, he was forced to turn away dozens of parents and their children. Some of them took to social media, giving negative reviews about the business; this is attention Schall says his young business can’t afford.

“As a small business owner, you’re really concerned with making sure that you put forth your best foot every time.”

Urbandale parent Laura Phelps, pre-registered her five-year-old daughter for the event months ago. While she understands parents’ frustration, she says they shouldn’t point the blame at the coffee shop.

“Nobody is saying that the kids aren’t devastated and the parents don’t have a right to be upset or mad or frustrated. I just want to make sure that the wrong people don’t get blamed,” she said.

The Des Moines Register tells Channel 13, “An error was made in a listing about the event, and a correction will run both in print and online. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused for Iowa families.”

Channel 13 attempted to reach out the Des Moines Parent magazine, but did not immediately receive a response.

Mahalo’s Coffee and Mini Donuts will host two more princess parties on April 23rd.

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