Ahhh – the drapery rental marketplace – it’s seriously a drapery jungle out there! It just would seem logical that one could call around town and get some apples for apples quotes…. Right?  Such as, how hard is it to compare 500 running feet of black rental drape from one company to 500 running feet of black rental drape from another? Turns out – not so easy.

Get ready to navigate…. I hope you bought your GPS…..

FABRIC OPTIONS

Be prepared to select by color or color palette – rather than by fabric.  Several suppliers represent the Encore Velour textile – which is also our preferred textile for the rental environment.  So, just know that if you need to order black drape, you might want to simply request something in the color black that is either 1) opaque or  2) translucent or 3) transparent.  Beyond that, let the supplier back your needs into what they have available.

PLEATING AND FULLNESS

Not all drapes are created equal.  We make all our black drapery flat – such that it suits about 88% of our callers. Of course, those wanting black pleated drapery can always request that we clip in the fullness before we ship the drapery to them.  You can always make a flat drape full – but never a full drape flat!  Be cautious to enquire if the drapery you are being quoted is flat or with fullness/pleating.  This often also impacts the pricing and can be the cause of discrepancies in quotes.

HOLDS

Some companies offer complimentary holds, others offer fee-based deposit holds.  I have heard too the horror stories of clients thinking something was on hold and then, after selling the project to their own client, learning that the drapes are no longer available……….  Never good.  We do offer some HOLDS – we never charge for them – but we do ask that the clients remain in a continuous conversation with us during the “pending” period.  Of course, it can be a first in, best dressed situation at times.  Request a hold if you need it – and not if you don’t.  And confirm the order as soon as you can – the early bird catches the worm!

PACKAGING

How will you use the drapes? How will you transport them?  Surely you won’t want to turn up to a venue with 50 bags of drapery to be hand carried.  Keep it simple and hamper your orders in travel-friendly wheeled hampers. Some suppliers will offer roadcases, others hampers, others nothing unless you ask.  Ask first – and check to see if the packaging or carts are complimentary, or if you are being billed for them. Better to know where the costs are that create the total on your invoice and then decide from there between suppliers.

DAMAGES

How will damages be handled? Sometimes the cheapest bid is only the cheapest bid because you will inevitably end up being billed additionally upon return and inspection.  Know what the replacement costs are for each item – so that you can really choose wisely – between suppliers, drapery and fabric types. Sometimes it is as simple as deciding to actually buy it rather than rent it! Most vendors that you inquire with will be able to quote a project both ways……… heaps of big drape for a one week show – rent it!  Something white and light and bright going to an outdoor festival in the rain……?  BUY it!  Cover your bases and choose wisely on the front end.

WEEKENDS and HOLIDAYS

If you get to the gig and something has changed – or the order is wrong – will the supplier be there for you on the weekend to correct, assist or help solve your issue (no matter whose fault it is)? Always something to keep in mind for those big load-ins that don’t start till Saturday AM.  Monday morning is usually 2 days too late to fix the problem……

New to the world of stage drapery?  Download our pdf “Guide to Stage Drapery and Finishes” for a printable manual on the subject.

To leave you with one last thought…I have some preferred rental shops in town – and for those clients whom we can’t assist, I always love to offer them a referral.  I am a fan of suppliers with good, clean and quality rental inventory.  Out goal is likewise to try and always keep our products to a standard that we would be proud of or “eat off” if you know what I mean?  It’s a bit of a massive undertaking – but certainly we have set our bar high in this regard – and encourage you to always perform your due diligence when choosing a rental drapery supplier.