2017-05-19 / Front Page

A backdrop for every occasion

Business rents an array of set pieces for events

Scene Setters owners Jennifer Turney (left) and Kimberly Patterson (right) hold Indy, a common fixture of their 427 Washington St. warehouse, in front of one of their rustic backdrops. Scenes like this are available for rental for special events. — TIMOTHY LAROCHEScene Setters owners Jennifer Turney (left) and Kimberly Patterson (right) hold Indy, a common fixture of their 427 Washington St. warehouse, in front of one of their rustic backdrops. Scenes like this are available for rental for special events. — TIMOTHY LAROCHECLAREMONT — An 18-wheeler truck roared as it backed up on a recent Wednesday behind the warehouse at 427 Washington St. in Claremont. Through a nearby warehouse door, a brown dog laying on an old couch perked his ears and stood at attention. Indy, the 2-year-old Chihuahua-Boston Terrier mix, was rescued from a shelter in Kentucky. The couch too was rescued from an estate sale.

Inside the building is a labyrinth of eclectic set pieces – Victorian bars, rustic chairs, even a birch tree with mushrooms growing from all sides. Soon, these set pieces will find their way into homes, wedding venues and catered events across New Hampshire and Vermont. A piece of cloth hangs across one of the bar counters bearing the banner for Scene Setters, an event rental company that uses salvaged materials to set the scene for special events.

Jennifer Turney started Scene Setters in July 2016 after toying with an idea she had one day while talking with some friends who were planning a wedding.

“They were telling me about their decor style and I started chuckling and I thought ‘you should just take a look through my house because I have everything that you are looking for,’” Turney said. “That’s what basically started the idea, I was wondering if my items could pay for themselves. I spent so much time moving them that I began to wonder if I could make moving them profitable.”

After Turney built up a small inventory, she set out to bridal shows throughout the region, where, she said, the business was well-received, and she created a business plan. But something was still missing.

In February 2017, Turney invited Kimberly Patterson, a friend she had met while the two were doing real estate appraisals, to join her in the business venture. The two found the warehouse space from which they currently operate, and began marketing their business.

“When Jen asked and we talked about it, I was just like ‘you know this can be something for me to do,’” Patterson said of her joining the business. “People think we’re sisters, and in a past life we probably were.”

Since then, business has taken off, Turney said, and Scene Setters is fast becoming a staple of events calling for their unusual rental items.

“We’re on the right path, everything has been falling into place for us, and it’s been really exciting,” Turney said. “Momentum has just been building. Together we’re, I think, unstoppable.”

Interested customers can also consult with Scene Setters or set up an appointment with them to view the warehouse.

“If [customers] have elements they know they are interested in, they can bring them and show me and then we get a feel for what they’re looking for,” Turney said. “Some people know ‘I am looking for this — I need a wedding arbor, I need a bar,’ so they can just come in and have a peek at [the items in the warehouse].”

Once a theme is set, customers can also add various pieces of décor to the set – ranging from old bottles, window panes or even dividers constructed entirely out of old wooden doors.

“We really like the idea of bundling. We want the scene to be complete,” Turney said.

When the sets are ready, Turney handles the logistics of moving the pieces into place and designing the layout to fit the desired style of the event. These styles, she says, can quickly elevate even a simple event.

For instance, on someone looking for a bar counter for their event may request the Victorian piano bar set made entirely out of old piano parts. A salvaged metal rod forms the backstop, and a wine cooler sits underneath the frame.

Although Scene Setters is a new venture, their model is based on Turney and Patterson’s collective experience. Turney, for instance, brings 15 years of experience in hospitality and design to the business. Most notably, she previously worked at the Woodstock Inn providing service for special events.

Patterson, aside from her considerable collection of set pieces, brings business acumen and the valuable willingness to search the dumpsters of real estate sales for interesting pieces to be used in sets.

“I’m the kind of girl that will crawl on the floor to find that piece of furniture,” Patterson said. “I’ve got the eye, and I don’t mind getting dirty to get something.”

Turney says she hopes to expand the business in the future to offer more sets ranging from beach-like to steampunk. But even with growth, she said, the business' founding principals will remain.

“We’re honest people, and we’re here to make a living,” Turney said. “We want to enjoy what we are doing and I think that’s why we are so successful. We never have a bad day at work.”

Scene Setters is located at 427 Washington St. in Claremont. For more information, visit scenesetters.net, facebook.com/scenesettersevents or call (802) 591-1578.

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