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Michigan tent rental businesses booming to help restaurants and bars

Amid event cancellations, restaurants and bars are snatching up tents for outdoor dining
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 7:10 PM EST
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FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJRT) - Businesses like bars and restaurants are coming up with creative ways to keep customers during the three-week pause that is shutting down indoor dining on Wednesday.

Some are resorting to setting up outdoor heated tents, and that means party and tent rental companies are busy.

A crew with Ford’s Party Rental in Flint set up a tent outside Wahlburger’s at the Genesee Valley Center mall on Tuesday morning. The rental is a great source of business for tent rental companies, but they also have faced their share of challenges this year.

“It’s a weird year. I mean this is my 25th year doing it and we’ve always been kind of recession proof, so this is something that we’ve never seen and we really don’t know what to do yet," said Jeff Valley, who owns Ford’s Party Rental.

Normally, tent and party rental businesses are busy setting up indoor events with middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities, but that’s just not happening due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they’re taking their services to the service industry.

Valley said he’s gotten numerous calls and inquiries about bars and restaurants interested in setting up tents since outdoor dining is allowed under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order. Only indoor dining rooms are required to close.

Valley is happy for the restaurant business and he’s hoping its enough for Ford’s Party Rental to survive. He has employees, two store locations and a lot of event cancellations.

“Couple guys who work for me just bought houses this year, so making sure that they still will have employment all winter long is a big thing to me," Valley said.

He’s hoping to see another economic stimulus package to help his business.

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