To create a pretty party, rental operators have to give dirt the brushoff. Not only is grime unsightly, but "Dirt means increased labor costs," as Matt Holt, vice president of Flemington, N.J.-based Celebration Party Rentals, puts it.
And dirt comes in all forms. Stephen Thurston, manager of the tent division at Toronto-based Higgins Party Rentals, describes it in its most basic variety: "It's a cleaning nightmare when you have to take down a large wedding after it has rained all weekend. Everything from tents to chairs to linens comes back muddy." And there's more: "Wax and cigarette burns on carpet are a pain. Wax you can get out with a little effort, but burns are burns. Even with no-smoking regulations, it is still a problem."
Mary Crothers, president of Toronto-based Chair-Man Mills, points to a variation on an old-fashioned problem: "Lipstick is still an issue, especially now with long-lasting lipsticks." And Will Holditch, CSEP, CERP, general manager of Austin, Texas-based Marquee Rents, brings up a regional concern: "During the spring the pollen drop from the live oak trees coats the tents in a yellow film."
No matter the problem, all rentals operators agree, special events is a dirty business, and it's a chore to keep inventory clean.
MAGICAL MYSTERY MACHINES
If rental operators could wish for the cleaning machines of their dreams, here are the items that top the list:
- "A fabric which would withstand mildew for a reasonable period of time."
- "A machine for tents attached to the back of the trucks, so when dirty tents have pollen and leaves all over them, they could be washed on the way back to the warehouse."
- "Something to clean chairs, tents and china all at once. Back the truck up and unload an entire order into one machine--wait an hour and reload truck."
- "Something that cleans barbecues at the push of a button!"
- "Would rather have a paint that would never chip or wear off chairs."