Sandy’s U-Rent Party Store evolves with the times in the Pacific Northwest.
Say “Walla Walla” in the United States and people are bound to think “onions.” True enough—Walla Walla, Wash., is known for producing the large sweet onions that are available every June through August. But for many years Walla Walla County has also been known as one of the finest wine regions in the nation—and Sandy’s U-Rent in Walla Walla has evolved along with it to meet the changing needs of its clients.
Sandy’s U-Rent began as a general rental store in 1961, renting tools, lawn and garden, and medical and contractor equipment—along with a limited amount of party rental items. Now Sandy’s U-Rent is exclusively a party and special event rental company, much of its business resulting from the growing wine and tourism industries. Many of the current wedding trends lend themselves well to destination weddings at vineyards. “The trends we’ve noticed over the last few years include vintage, shabby chic, peacock and, of course, vineyard,” says Toni Thorne, Sandy’s U-Rent manager. “And in this area we’ve also seen a lot of farm to table. For a summer 2014 wedding, one couple we’ve spoken to is actually growing the food for their reception.”
Though vineyards provide a romantic backdrop for weddings and other events, the venues can also come with some challenges. “We had a wedding last year at a winery that tested our tent knowledge,” Thorne says. “We had set up tents at this venue many times before but never at this particular location on the property. It never occurred to us that there could be a problem.”
After eight months of planning, the crew began setting up tents on the winery’s sprawling lawn. They began driving stakes into the ground and hit something hard; the event location was directly over the underground barrel room. “There was not another option to move the tent to a different site on the property,” Thorne says. “One of our longtime employees remembered reading an article about strengthening the stake power by driving another stake directly behind the first one—which is what they did and the stakes held strong.”
Because Walla Walla is also a college town (home to Whitman College, Walla Walla Community College and Walla Walla University in neighboring College Place) Sandy’s U-Rent Party Store finds that many weddings are for couples that attended college there and are returning to Walla Walla to get married. Whether the couples choose to have their wedding at one of the vineyards, another outdoor locale, or in an old barn or refurbished downtown building, Sandy’s U-Rent Party store is proud to make it an event to remember, using the best of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer.