Arrow experts offer the lowdown on beautiful, affordable accessories
“If we can’t get it, they don’t need it,” says Janet Weiss, with a sweeping gesture around her spacious showroom at Arrow Paper Party Rental in New London. The area is filled with gorgeous table setups reflecting the coming seasons. Beautiful color schemes set off sparkling glassware and china on coordinated linens. The walls of the showroom display myriad equipment and accessories to make any party complete.
“The holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, are the busiest season, but the fall weddings come first,” says Weiss. “September is our second busiest month of the summer.” According to Weiss, themes for weddings seem to run in cycles. “We just finished the trend for rustic, with the wine barrels, farm tables, benches, and wooden cross-back chairs. Rustic was popular for the last four years,” she says.
What’s new and popular now? Weiss smiles and picks up a shiny gold fork from an elegant table setup. “Gold is big now. Gold-colored flatware and gold-trimmed dishes and glassware.” The table design includes gold-rimmed white china on gold charger plates, and a pale gray tablecloth with lavender and taupe napkins topped with the gold flatware.
Weiss points to another table setting with cobalt blue stemware. “These are so beautiful. You can rent all the dishes, glassware, flatware, napkins, and linens,” she says. “Do you know that renting is cheaper than disposable? About half the price.”
Customers come into the store and want help planning their party. Arrow employs three full-time staff members who handle that, along with Weiss and her husband, Gary, who also does many other tasks, such as measuring and setting up tents for Mystic Eats and other local festivals.
“Customers might come in not knowing for sure what they want to do,” says Weiss. “They’ll have a color scheme, but then they see some of our displays and change their minds about what they thought they might do.” The beautiful displays give customers ideas, because an idea can be hard to envision. “Sometimes we’ll bring out a table and set it up with the things the customer likes,” she says. “That way, they can see what it would look like,”
The showroom is the tip of the iceberg. Weiss opens a door to a warehouse containing floor-to-ceiling racks of nothing but table linens in every color and fabric imaginable. “We have all the different sizes, colors, and styles, but if we don’t have what the customer wants, we get it,” she says.
Another warehouse is nothing but dishes, glassware, and flatware; yet another warehouse is filled with chairs.
Weiss says, “We do the graduation ceremonies for Connecticut College and Mitchell College, which are usually on the same weekend. We’ll send out close to 7,000 chairs.”
While Arrow no longer carries the general licensed party supplies, they do have a large selection of top line designer paper goods, and the solid color coordinated products. “We keep the catering trays, foil baking and storage pieces, pastry boxes, and clear plastic serving pieces for general or backyard parties,” she says. “We also have the popcorn makers, hot dog cookers, and double roll tickets for outdoor events.”
The Weisses obviously enjoy what they do—the store has been serving southeastern Connecticut and Rhode Island for over 30 years. Asked to choose among the many parts of her job that she enjoys, Weiss smiles. “We do tents and chairs for the [submarine] base when they’re having welcome home parties,” she says. “I love that.”
Arrow Paper Party Rental
567 Coleman Street
New London, CT 06320