Expanding a party and event rental business from one location to two ideally results in higher revenue, a bigger market share and more opportunities for the business and its employees. But every so often, the unexpected happens.
Consider Jill Redmon, president of Montana Party Rentals in Bozeman and Wyoming Party Rentals in Jackson Hole. Redmon, whose clientele is weighted towards event planners (she also works with individuals and “a lot of brides”; weddings comprise a large part of her business). Redmon opened her Bozeman store in 1996. The Jackson Hole store opened 2014. Both locations specialize in unique, high-quality rental items and vintage rentals.
It was an expansion that Redmon had been contemplating for some time, particularly as she found they were doing more and more business in the Jackson Hole area. Since a five hour drive over winding mountain roads separates Bozeman and Jackson Hole, it just made sense to open another location there. But her search revealed a problem.
“Finding warehouse and retail space in Jackson is extremely difficult,” Redmon says. “And the labor pool is even more challenging. We had originally planned to duplicate our first location, but we began to see how hard this would be.”
Fortunately, luck or fate intervened in the form of a stationery store—Paper and Grace—that was going out of business. Its location was ideal and lacking any other viable options, Redmon decided to buy it, purchasing it just before it closed its doors. She kept it as a stationery store, retained the name on the storefront and completely revamped its inventory and decor. She added a sampling of tabletop rentals and chairs to showcase and opened an event planning office at the back of the shop. Wyoming Party Rentals was born. (Redmon plans to eventually add this name to the storefront.)
The main focus in the Jackson Hole store is on large-scale events. They will do smaller ones, but those clients must be willing to pay a premium delivery price as all items are still warehoused in and delivered from Bozeman. One highly trained, experienced employee staffs the rental office; Paper and Grace has four employees who were there previously. Event rental clients can make appointments or walk in (if the Wyoming Party Rentals staffer is away, Paper and Grace employees will take down the contact information or connect the person to the Bozeman store).
The unexpected? The growth of the stationery store, says Redmon. With the improved look and inventory, heavy on wedding-related stationery, the business has really taken off, which was a huge surprise to her. In fact, Paper and Grace has been such a hit she’s considering opening another one in Bozeman, but on its own and not attached to her rental store.
Her advice for party and event rental operators who’d like to add another location? “My suggestion is to consider creative ways to expand and grow your business,” she says. “Thinking outside the box is key.”