WHEN business booms, a rental company can outgrow its showroom quickly, and while making a move is never easy, an investment in a special space can really pay off. Party Rental Ltd. discovered this when it relocated its New York showroom, which officially opened for business the first week in April. Growing pains were inevitable for a company that began in a six-car, New Jersey garage in 1972 and now offers showrooms and warehouses throughout the Northeast.

To celebrate the recent move, Party Rental Ltd. held a weeklong grand opening. There, customers viewed the company's newly renovated Manhattan digs, which provide a minimalist, high-design environment that “allows even the most basic items to look cutting edge,” according to the company's marketing coordinator, Cecilia Hayward. With a find like that, Party Rental Ltd. has plenty of reasons to party.

THE SPACE

Hayward describes the reason the company moved to its Manhattan showroom in one word: “Space!” With headquarters in Teterboro, N.J., Party Rental Ltd. had been in the market for a new showroom for five years, but the “timing and opportunity were never right up until 2005,” she explains. Finally, the company found a space that provided both the room and aesthetics needed to optimally display its inventory. “I'm amazed at how much people — even those in the event industry — underestimate the design potential of a party rental business,” Hayward says.

A comparison between the company's old Manhattan showroom space and the new demonstrates the benefits of the move. The former space was 800 square feet, contained no kitchen, included a table setting area for just one 48-inch round table and could accommodate only one appointment at a time. The new space is an impressive 3,500 square feet and contains a tasting kitchen with professional-grade appliances and stone countertops. Custom displays and cabinetry contain chair color options, linen, china, trays and platters while drawers house extra sets of glassware and china for sample table settings.

THE LOCATION

Another plus Hayward cites is the new showroom's central location in the North Flatiron/South Fifth Avenue neighborhood. Important for both clients and staff, the new building is “conveniently located right below some of the busiest intersections in New York City and not in the middle of them,” she says. Helpful, too, is the fact the building is within walking distance of multiple subway lines and has ample hourly rate parking lots nearby.

THE BUILDING

The showroom building itself is of special note. Designed in the 1920s by Ely Jaques Kahn, a prominent art deco architect, the building is considered a landmark example of art deco. “The façade and lobby have been documented in many publications as quintessential art deco architecture,” Hayward explains.

The company's inventory, building and views of the city all seem to play off one another. “Our sleek product displays are what people tend to gravitate toward most,” Hayward notes, “Shortly after, the visitor realizes there is a fantastic view of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, so the 7-foot-tall windows are the next stop.” Lots of natural light also doesn't hurt, and Hayward maintains the cityscape viewed through their windows “is an inspiring backdrop for all of the creative minds that come into the space.”

THE GOODS

As for inventory and its display, Party Rental Ltd.'s sample tables are changed every three to four months. “These displays are usually dictated by current fashion and design trends and how our existing product fits into them,” Hayward says. At the same time “inventory is constantly reviewed for stagnant items” to revive. Hayward notes the showroom is key in providing the “vehicle for highlighting that item and making it new again.” Management also promotes new, old and seasonal items through its monthly e-mail campaign.

To assist planners and event designers with their vision and its presentation to their clients, Party Rental Ltd. provides them with “a blank slate”: two empty Lucite tables, one square and one round, so designers can develop tabletops from 33 china patterns, 48 chargers, 14 flatware patterns and more than 100 linen patterns and colors, “all contained within a series of closets and drawers as to not overwhelm a designer,” according to Hayward. In addition, she notes, “a shelving unit divides the two tables into their own spaces” and is functional itself, housing glassware, flatware and votive candle collections. In fact, the entire product line of tabletop items (china, glassware, flatware), trays and platters is on display in the building, including multiple sets.

To provide inspiration to showroom visitors, event designer Keiko Sato meticulously merchandised the showroom by color, creating vignettes on the custom-built displays while highlighting the individual items “like pieces of art,” Hayward explains. The effect evokes “a feeling of shopping for fine china in an upscale department store,” she says.

THE REACTION

Clients — who tend to book appointments two to three weeks in advance and six to 12 months before the actual event — have embraced the new showroom. Since the former space had no kitchen, and the table-setting area was “cramped,” according to Hayward, planners are pleased the new showroom allows them to present a complete design to their clients. This, Hayward says, “provides a level of confidence and ease that the presentation of their event will be exactly what they want.”




Party Rental Ltd. 261 Fifth Ave., 16th Floor, Suite 1602, New York, NY 10016; 888/PR-HIPPO; www.partyrentalltd.com. Look for our profile on the new showroom of Napa, Calif.-based La Bella Party Rental in the next “Rental Essentials.”

LOCATION SHOWROOM SPACE WAREHOUSE SPACE
Beltsville, Md. None 44,700 square feet
Bridgehampton, N.Y. 2,800 square feet 2,000 square feet
Greenwich, Conn. 1,100 square feet None
Pensauken, N.J 1,000 square feet 32,900 square feet
Philadelphia 800 square feet None
Teterboro, N.J. 900 square feet 235,000 square feet
Washington 1,000 square feet None
Spaced out: Party Rental Ltd. has locations throughout the Northeast.