Classic Party Rentals - PARTY is our Middle Name
Author: Peter Zink | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Mike Wilson, manager of Classic Party Rentals in Bluffton, has his fair share of war stories: “There was just this torrential rain that wouldn’t let up,” he said. “Water was everywhere—you couldn’t walk anywhere without getting wet. We ended up working around the clock to make that one happen.”
Wilson could have been describing any litany of party events challenged by bad weather. In this case, it was no ordinary event. He and his crew were setting up tents for the ESPN Tailgate Party for Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, and the weather wasn’t cooperating. “They needed some additional support, and we went down there to help,” he explained.
Wilson is no stranger to the Lowcountry. He moved here from Virginia in 1999 to work for ClubCorp at the Daufuskie Island Club & Resort.
When Mike had his first child, he knew the food and beverage lifestyle wasn’t ideal anymore—especially with the hassle of transport to Daufuskie. So he switched over to the event supply business, working for several years at Lowcountry Event Rentals before trying a stint with construction equipment rentals and sales. While he enjoyed the construction equipment rental business, it didn’t offer the same variety and challenge he was accustomed to at Lowcountry Event Rentals. So when Classic Party Rentals purchased Lowcountry Event Rentals in 2008 and the new owners offered him the opportunity to manage the business, he leapt at the chance.
Wilson’s quiet office and the simple showroom floor behind the BMW dealership don’t begin to convey the jobs they do. Visitors are greeted by an array of tables with colorful tablecloths and elegant stemware. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s offered. With a 10,000 square-foot warehouse on the premises and stores located nationwide, it’s a tough call on what to feature in the showroom.
“While we certainly cater to the local area, we draw from stores all over the United States to get what people need. It’s how we offer the largest selection in the area. We have furniture you just can’t find anywhere else around here,” Wilson said. It’s what allows Classic Party Rentals to cover a polo match in Augusta, a wedding in Bluffton, or a presidential visit in Savannah all in the same week, he explained. “It never gets dull around here.”
Even the Army has called upon Classic Party Rentals. When the 3rd Infantry Division committed to a division-level field exercise, even the Army knew it had to outsource its logistical support to house and support so many soldiers. Wilson and his crew literally took an off-road trip into the woods and drove to a remote GPS coordinate for a site survey and quote. According to Wilson, his staff was literally working a couple meters away from weapons being fired. “It was definitely a unique experience,” he said.
But it takes more than a large supply network to tackle events out of the ordinary. Wilson gives a lot of credit to his experienced and hardworking staff. “They are incredible. The reason we’ve been able to stay in business for over 30 years is the expertise of our personnel,” he said. “One person has worked here for over 22 years. We just don’t get a lot of turnover here.”
Perhaps that’s one reason they’re not afraid to take on some of the more celebrity-oriented events in the area. Classic Party Rentals played a key role in the recent Extreme Makeover home build in Beaufort, providing tents for volunteers and VIPs alike. “I never have a shortage of volunteers on a project like that. The staff gets really excited on those types of projects,” Wilson said.
From transporting tents via boat to various islands, to coordinating with many other event companies on site for setup, Wilson and his staff work through the chaos to get the job done.
They often provide tents for fireworks and rug vendors along South Carolina’s highways. And, of course, they’re always willing to provide a traditional Lowcountry wedding.
“At the end of the day, this is a people industry. It might sound corny, but we’re all about making someone’s dream a reality,” Wilson said. “When you have that young woman who’s visualized what her wedding day is going to look like since she was 10 years old, we have to make that a reality. And there’s a lot of satisfaction in doing that.”
Is there anything Classic Party Rentals doesn’t do? “We’re not event planners. We can’t help you there. We obviously work with planners on a daily basis, but we don’t do the actual planning,” Wilson said.
The Classic Party Rentals Team: (Pictured from left to right)
Kandace, Tashieka, Mike and Ginger
But it never hurts to ask what event they can do for you. “I’ve had requests in the past for petting zoos. While I can’t provide the animals, I can certainly provide the fence,” Wilson said. The scope of what we do is absolutely tremendous.”
To throw an extraordinary event of your own, contact Classic Party Rentals at (843) 837-5090 or check out their large catalog at classicpartyrentals.com.