How to Start a Vintage Rental Business
Vintage and unique decor rental businesses have really taken off in recent years, thanks in part to social media and event blogs. Having a wedding or event, now, is a chance to make a statement and show your unique style and tastes. This is because vintage rental companies have gained so much popularity. So, it’s time for you to start a vintage rental business!
You may be asking yourself – how can I start a vintage rental business? It’s an important question, and also a tricky one. Starting a rental company that specializes in vintage props is so much different from starting any other type of rental business, because you can’t simply find a manufacturer and order bulk quantities of items. It not only takes money, but also time to build an inventory of items that you can rent out for weddings and events.
Here are some things to consider, and to help you get started with starting a vintage rental company:
- Determine the overhead cost.
- Do market research on potential competition.
- Get organized both physically and digitally.
- Determine what vintage rental items to buy.
- Invest in storage for your event inventory.
Time to go into more detail:
How much money do I need to start a vintage rental business?
Prices and availability of vintage inventory items vary from region to region across the U.S. If you live in an area where vintage items are scarce, it will take more time and money to start your business. If you want to start with smaller items, a smaller budget of around $1,000 would allow you to begin purchasing inventory and grow from there.
Additionally, other costs to consider when starting a vintage prop business are:
- Business licensing and incorporation fees
- Business insurance
- Website design and hosting fees
- Design fees for logo and business cards
- Materials needed, such as business cards and brochures
- Advertising & marketing
- Storage & transportation costs
Do Market Research on Event Companies in the Area
Market research is important when considering a new venture such as the plan to start a vintage rental business. If you’re considering a new business because of the abundance of vintage items available in your area, chances might be that there are already many other vintage businesses open in your area. While competition can be a good thing, you also want to make sure that there is still an opportunity to make money.
You can do market research in a few different ways:
Look on Google for vintage rental businesses within 75-100 miles of your location.
How many (if any) are there? If there are any, consider ways that you might differentiate your own business, or set yourself apart, from the competition.
Talk to event and wedding planners to get a sense of the need for this type of business in your market.
Ask the planners about any frustrations that they experience with working with rental companies, so you’ll know what pitfalls to avoid. You can also ask them what kinds of items they typically have trouble sourcing for their clients to get a sense of what items you should look at getting first.
Talk to venues in your area to see if there’s a need for vintage rentals from their perspective.
You can use this to get a sense for what kinds of things you might run into when working with venues, as a vintage rental business.
Some types of venues to look into are:
- Hotels & event centers
- Golf courses & country clubs
- Museums that host events
- Ranches and farms that host events
- Independent/private venues
To make this process easy, try to Google “event venue [your city]”.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve found your niche and determined a target market, you’ll be able to perfect your marketing strategy. Learn more about social selling and how outreach on social media channels can replace cold calls!
How to Get Organized
Organization is key to vintage rental business success. You’ll do yourself a huge favor when you’re starting out if you stay organized from the get-go, and a great way to do that is by using an event rental software like Goodshuffle Pro. Not only does Goodshuffle Pro allow you to track your inventory, and avoid costly mistakes such as double bookings, but the Goodshuffle dashboard gives you an at-a-glance look at your calendar of upcoming events, making it easy to anticipate and plan for busy times.
When you manage your bookings through Goodshuffle Pro, it makes it easy to prepare quotes, contracts, and invoices— and get them all taken care of electronically. This is a huge time saver and a great way to make your business look and feel professional from day one!
How to Source Vintage Items
Once you’ve considered costs, done your market research, and gotten organized, the fun part is here: sourcing vintage rental items for your business! This part is exciting because you’re finally able to begin bringing your vision to life!
Some types of items you may want to start with are:
- Vintage china, glassware, and cake stands
- Chalkboards and unique signage options, such as windows and mirrors
- Unique arches & backdrops
- Brass candle holders for taper candles
- Vintage suitcases and luggage
- Unique statement pieces, such as bird cages or a vintage bicycle
- Bud vases and medicine bottles for floral arrangements
Once your business grows a little, you may consider getting larger items so that you can do vintage-styled lounge setups:
When building your collections, check online for estate and garage sales. When you’re out driving, keep an eye out for these signs as well! You can also sometimes find great pieces at vintage and antique shops, and at thrift stores. Also check the antique section of Craigslist at least a couple of times a week, and ask your friends and family to keep you in mind if they see something that you might like!
Storage and other considerations
When you’re starting an event business that is heavy on inventory, the biggest issue you’ll run into is storage. Many people start their businesses out of their garage (there is nothing wrong with this!), and then quickly find that their inventory has taken over their home, and they can’t find anything. Decide early on how much you want to grow to begin with, and make a plan to scale your business. Let yourself know that once you’ve attained a certain amount in sales, you’ll look for a storage unit or alternative meeting and storage space.
Once you begin to add furniture to your collection, you may want to consider a small warehouse space that has an office section where you can meet with clients and also do mock setups of decor. Three tier, industrial-grade shelving is a lifesaver when you get to this point. These allow you to put light items/boxes on top, chairs on the middle shelf, and couches on bottom.
Additional items to consider are divided boxes and other things, (such as packing paper and bubble wrap), needed to safely transport and store your unique pieces. For furniture rentals, it’s helpful to have rolling carts, furniture pads and blankets, and moving straps. Don’t forget that you’ll need to charge a delivery fee large enough to cover the cost of a delivery truck and setup crew if you’re delivering large items!
When it’s all said and done, starting a vintage & unique decor rental business for weddings, parties, and events is a wonderful opportunity. You get to be your own boss and create a business unlike any other. Though each vintage business has something in common, each is also unique due to the one-of-a-kind vintage items they carry. Always keep in mind how you can set yourself apart, and most importantly – have fun! You don’t need to be an expert to get started, and you will learn many things as you go along. Find a good support group that you can turn to when you have questions. And, remember to take it one day at a time.
Curious how Goodshuffle Pro can help you grow your vintage decor rental business?
Lauren Mestas is a Wedding & Event Planner based in Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New Mexico. She took over ownership of Darling Details Vintage Decor Rental Co. in the Fall of 2016, and has loved building a collection of unique and vintage items for rent. In her spare time, you’ll find her practicing hand lettering, painting & renovating furniture, and writing about weddings.
Feature Image by Maura Jane Photography