Husband and wife Lonny and Marjory Eggleston, co-owners of Los Angeles-based Unique Tabletop Rentals, admit they have a mother's advice to thank for the creation of their company.
“I've always collected antique china, crystal and silver, and I wanted to fill out what I had in order to do [a] party,” Marjory says, recalling a 1994 event she was planning for a group of friends. “I looked around but I couldn't find what I needed to do this party.” During a visit to her parents' home, she explains, her mother pointed out tableware in a Martha Stewart book and asked, “Don't you wish you could rent this?” Marjory admitted that she did, and her mother promptly suggested starting a business specializing in upscale tableware rentals.
Within months, Unique Tabletop Rentals was born, and the Egglestons have been sharing business responsibilities and successes ever since.
“We're not your typical rental house,” Lonny says. He handles day-to-day operations and marketing; Marjory is in charge of buying, human resources and legal affairs.
Lonny notes that the company's appeal to an upscale niche market has kept business brisk — the company does about 100 events a week — throughout the country's economic ups and downs. With an inventory of tableware that includes gold-plated flatware, mother-of-pearl serving pieces and Reidel crystal among hundreds of thousands of high-end items, Unique Tabletop Rentals “only deals with the very top people throughout the nation,” according to Lonny, who lists the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards as two major clients. He adds that Unique Tabletop Rentals is “among the top two to three companies in the nation, revenue-wise, for what we do.”
Even with so many elegant, hard-to-find pieces in stock, Marjory is always looking for new items. “My friends always wonder why I don't want to go shopping,” she says. “It's because I shop for a living.”
In order to stay on top of trends, “I watch the retail market really closely,” Marjory says. “I watch films, I look at books, I really look at everything — colors, what the kids are doing, those kinds of things.” She just added 60,000 colored glasses to the company's inventory, explaining, “We think colored glassware is going to be really hot.”
Incorporating new styles is just one way Unique Tabletop Rentals positions itself for continued growth. It has also branched out with an office in Alexandria, Va., to serve East Coast clients.
The Egglestons' newest venture — a kosher division — takes the company's niche-marketing formula a step further by serving a specific group within the upscale market. “No one in the nation has offered upper-end kosher china,” Lonny says. “The china cannot interface with our regular china at all,” Marjory adds, so the company is creating a separate kosher division of Unique Tabletop Rentals. “Everything needs to be overseen by an Orthodox rabbi, coming and going,” she notes. “It's really interesting; it's been a lot of fun.”
Unique Tabletop Rentals
2555 E. Del Amo Blvd.
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221
IN THE POCKET
Marjory: “If we have an item that is known to tend to ‘walk away,’ we'll warn the event planners that this item is small and seems highly irresistible, so they may want to make their client aware that they can either choose to not use it, or understand that if the losses are significant, we'll have to discuss it.”
ON THE MOVE
Lonny: “We only do the top things, so we always have to have the ability to take the product as far afield as possible. [One week] we were in 14 major cities in the nation in the same weekend.”
Marjory: “Our drivers like it — they're seeing the world.”
ABOUT THE ECONOMY
Marjory: “The first quarter was slow for everyone it seems. But I think that suddenly everyone came out of their shells and began rolling forward again.”
Lonny: “We find that some corporate ventures have ceased to exist this year … But people with money have money, and people with money will spend money.”