Special Events

Tools of the Trade: Easy Chairs

Chair manufacturers and distributors continue to invent better ways to serve the needs of the special event industry.

To reduce shipping costs, chiavari chairs are now available in ready-to-assemble versions. "The concept is based on the Ikea model," says Paul Segal, vice president of Santa Ana, Calif.-based event equipment distributor Regal Interna-tional. "You get the chair in pieces and assemble it yourself." The new chairs, which Regal introduced at The Special Event in San Diego in Jan-uary, can also be taken apart again to store during the off-season, he says.

Richwood Imports of Ont-ario, Calif., also came out with a patent-pending, ready-to-assemble chiavari chair this year. According to company president Hongfei He, sending the chairs from California to the East Coast in pieces reduces the per-chair shipping cost from $7 to about $2.

The chair sets come with screws, glue and instructions, and "you don't have to be a carpenter to fit them together," He says. She estimates assembly time at five minutes. Unlike Regal's model, the Richwood chairs are not designed to be taken apart again.

FANCY FOLDS

Folding chairs are growing more sophisticated and durable.

Event Equipment Sales of Countryside, Ill., has come out with a silver-colored wooden model that marketing manager Debra Shipper touts as an economical alternative to the chia-vari chair. "They look more high-end than regular folding chairs," she explains, adding that the color silver is in great demand for special events.

White chairs are still big for weddings, He says, noting that Richwood introduced a resin folding chair this year as an alternative to the traditional white wooden wedding chair. She says that unlike wood, resin doesn't break or crack and won't need repainting. The new resin model costs the same as the company's wooden models, she says.

COVER IT UP

Experts stress the importance of protecting chairs during transport and storage.

If you are crafty, this won't cost you much. "I've seen rental dealers take old table linens and turn them into sleeves that fit over a stack of chairs," Segal says. "It keeps the dust off when the chairs are in storage and protects them during transportation."

Don't have time to make covers? Try ready-made versions.

To protect wooden folding chairs, Richwood offers burlap chair bags.

For preserving stacking chairs, Chicago-based manufacturer Table-scapes Design just came out with heavy-duty, synthetic-fiber covers that slip "over the entire stack-up to 10 chairs," says Kathy Ruff, president. To protect the bottoms of chair legs and prevent damage to ballroom floors, Tablescapes offers clear, plastic "feet" that slide over the leg bottoms.

Taking a cue from customer feedback, Event Equipment Sales offers individual chair protectors for stacking chairs. "Our customers complained that the front portion of the chair seats and the top spindles were getting scratched during transport when stacked," Shipper explains. Made out of vinyl with a cotton lining, the mats fit between stacking ballroom chairs to prevent them from damaging one another.

Resources: Event Equipment Sales, 800/337-0093, 708/352-0662, www. eventeqptsales.com; Regal International, 800/457-3425, 714/424-6320, www.regalinternational.com; Rich-wood Imports, 888/991-5656, 909/930-6677, www.richwood-imports. com; Tablescapes Design, 800/918-6500, 312/733-9700

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