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Rustic props turned into event rental business

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By Sally Voth

Looking for a little something extra to prop up that party, photo shoot or banquet? Crave! Event Rentals LLC in Winchester might be just what you're looking for.

Amy Van Meter and her brother-in-law, Chris Van Meter, bill their new company as an online rental store specializing in vintage and rustic event decor.

Mrs. Van Meter is an event planner, while Mr. Van Meter works for an auction company and does property management.

"For the last year or so, [I] saw how popular all the old antique and rustic stuff is," she said. "On the [Van Meter's] family farm, they have barns full of old stuff. It was just sitting there collecting dust."

She suggested to Van Meter, her husband's brother, that they could go into business renting the items out.

Their inventory can be viewed at their website, www.cravevintagerentals.com.

The site features a variety of tables, a retro dining set, dressers, mantels, wooden shutters, mirrors, chalkboards, windows, benches, chandeliers, lanterns, a rotary telephone, a chicken coop, various trunks and footlockers, jugs, old luggage, wash tubs, crates, candle sticks, vases, silver teapots and coffee servers, and glasses.

Some of the dishes can be rented for as little as a dollar or two, some of the luggage is $8 and $10, an old doctor's bag is $10, chandeliers are $20-$35, a push plow is $15, a Colorama pencil box is $8, the retro dining set rents for $20, and one of the Victorian sofas is $50, according to the website.

Crave! donated the use of some items for the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber to use at its 95th anniversary celebration, Mrs. Van Meter said, and the company will be in the Winchester Bridal Expo Jan. 6. They've also been in a few photo shoots.

"Photographers are going to be I think a good client for us," Mrs. Van Meter said.

Her brother-in-law enjoys finding diamonds in the rough.

"Chris has always been one who loves to bring home free or cheap stuff," she said.

If he doesn't know what he'll use it for right away, he'll find a use, Mrs. Van Meter said.

"It's always changing, always adding," Van Meter said of the inventory.

Clients can pick the items up at Crave!'s warehouse in Winchester, or have them delivered if the venue is in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, or the Leesburg, Purcellville or Warrenton areas, the Van Meters said.

While there are a few similar event companies around the country, there aren't any others in this region, Mrs. Van Meter said. She thinks the trend for using found items is getting more and more popular, especially for those looking to use them for engagement photos or wedding receptions.

"My theory on that is when the economy tanked, brides started doing all the DIY-type stuff," she said. "What can I find to do some of my own decor?"

"What's around the house?" Van Meter added.

Many of the items have a rustic feel -- old farm items, peeling paint and the like. Van Meter termed their style "rustic-nicity," according to the website.

"People can see the value of a great piece that's not some brand-new thing, and is still here and has a history and a story," Mrs. Van Meter said.

For more information, visit the website, call 313-6502, or email cravevintagerentals@gmail.com.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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