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Buy or Borrow: Providing Linens at Events


To buy or to borrow, that is the question. Well, more like “to be or not to be,” but we’re sure Shakespeare won’t mind that we tweaked it a bit. So, to buy or to borrow, linens that is. Many people will assume that linens are provided by either their venue or by their caterer. As the caterer and provider you have two options yourself; purchase a standard set of linens as part of your business or find a third party vendor you can work with to provide linens.

If you choose to purchase your own linens consider how to maximize your investment. Staple colors like white or black will serve more clients and events. You should also order a mix of round and rectangular linens. If you find that many of your clients request colors that could have multiple occasion uses, like navy, gray, or red, consider buying those down the road. Now, if you get a request for cheetah or hot pink chevron, consider it a trend and offer to work with a third party vendor to get special linens for that particular event. Providing linens with your catering service will make the planning process simpler for clients, and who doesn’t appreciate simplification when planning a large event.

Working with a third party vendor has its benefits, too. You have more flexibility and options to offer your clients. Working with a third party vendor who supplies event accessories and decor also saves you from having to clean and store the linens that may be taking up valuable shelf space in your building. If you choose to work with a third party vendor try to work out a standard partnership agreement, such as standard white linens can be rented for an event for 100 – 150 people for X amount of money. This can help you keep cost down and consistent for your incoming clients. Then work out a standard rate sheet for more custom linens, such a chevron, sparkles, bright colors, and mixing/matching, linens. This can help you give an estimate to your clients if they request more unique linens for their event.

There are pros and cons to buying your own linens and to using a third party vendor. Each are a little different and affect the options you can provide and the amount of money you have to spend. For most, it will filter down to the amount of money that would need to be invested upfront to provide linens as part of your business. However, you should consider the time and commitment it will be to also clean, iron, and store the linens. Either way, you can be a caterer that offers linens with their catering services.

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