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When the crap has to go: Creative ways to dispose of rental inventory

When the crap has to go: Creative ways to dispose of rental inventory

mystery manA rental expert--who asks to remain anonymous--shares his unique tips for disposing of party rental inventory. Not all the people you think want your stuff--want your stuff!

I spent the past year disposing of over 15-plus years of old and dated inventory, custom-sized items that are not rentable, and damaged goods. This involved bolts of fabric as well as the finished cloths. We were bursting at the seams and had to clean up and make room for newer inventory.

I think it is inherently difficult for rental companies to dispose of "good inventory," no matter the condition. That is not how we are wired. However, it comes a time when the crap has to go! Warehouse space is a huge expense and must be considered. We have made our money on the items and they need to disposed of. It is hard at times because it is like parting with old friends.

SO OUT We disposed of inventory that was either outdated--due to color and design and not renting--as well as inventory that had dwindled to small numbers and the fabric was no longer available. We got rid of many skirts. They are just no longer in favor. Embroidered sheer fabric that was hot in the '90s had not been rented in years and needed to be dumped.

Reviewing product analysis and seeing that items have not rented in one year is always not a hard and fast rule. Other factors need consideration:

  • The seasonality of the product
  • Does our sales team know about the product enough to rent it?
  • Do we not own enough of the product? If we owned additional numbers, would it then rent?

We do not sell old inventory via garage sale, Ebay, etc. We do not have any additional space to allow for storing old product waiting to put together a sale. We try to dispose of items monthly. This includes damaged linens. We have a quality control department that inspects all linens after processing, and this creates a constant stream of product that needs to be disposed of.

DONATION DIDN'T WORK We wanted to donate items to see another life for all this fabric. It was more challenging and time consuming that we had hoped.

We tried taking the items to storage and then to flea markets and selling in small amounts. It was very time-consuming and labor-intensive. We no longer do this.

We tried many avenues.

I could not find anyone to recycle the goods. I tried various organizations to donate (in small quantities). We dropped off items at thrift stores such as Goodwill and others that operated by local charities. We gave to the 4H and YWCA that offer sewing programs.

Our local sheriff is affiliated with over 20 nonprofit organizations that took three van-loads of smaller cloths that no longer rent--like a 54x54 or 72x72. The department provides meals for the homeless around the holidays. They used the cloths to tie up the meals as a nice presentation when donating.

A local caterer took our old heavy denim fabric and created shoes for children.

We are unable to take any tax deduction for any of these donations, because we have already depreciated the goods.

We offered linens to the nonprofit community county-wide, and out of 100 or so groups contacted, only 32 responded that they wanted the goods, and only 13 showed to pick up the items. Not a good return on investment. I won’t do that again.

At the end of the day, we ordered and filled eight 20-yard dumpsters over the course of a year and filled each one. At a cost of $500 per load, this was by far the cheapest and most effective way to dispose of the goods.

For more creative ideas on disposing of obsolete rental inventory, see here

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