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"Local" Theatrical Supply Shops

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by rochem, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    A question for all of you out there - about how far away from your theatre is the nearest place to buy gaff tape or other miscellaneous theatre goods? Obviously for those of you in the large cities, New York and Las Vegas especially, there's probably a supply store on every street corner. But for those of us who live outside the major cities, how far do you go to get what you need?

    What prompted this question: I did a community theatre show a few weeks ago where we rented out an old high school with very limited lighting resources available. On the night of the final dress rehearsal before opening night, I realized that a lamp in one of my FOH instruments had shattered. The theatre had no spare lamps or instruments that weren't already used, and there would have been a large dark area without that instrument. So I had to drive about 2 hours each way to Rochester, NY just to get one $25 lamp. Plus, it gets really annoying to be paying upwards of $10 just on shipping when I need more gaff or spike tape.

    I find it hard to believe that there's no closer source, especially since we just got a new Broadway touring house where I live, but so far I haven't found any. On a side note, is there anyone who lives anywhere near to Elmira, NY who knows of a local place?
     
  2. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    I live in Seattle. There is a small place about 10 minutes away from my theater, but the selection is really more DJ oriented so they don't stock much more than the basics. I usually have to drive about 40 minutes each way to the other side of town to get the good stuff. I used to whine and complain until I got to know the people at a college in the other half the state. They drive two hours one way to get to the same "Local Dealer". I can walk to both Home Depot and Lowes from home (and stop at a Krispy Kreme in the middle if I am feeling weak and need sustenance). They have to drive an hour to get to a Home Depot. I know realize I'm a bit spoiled.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2008
  3. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    I do not have a theatrical supply place (that I know of) less than 120 miles away. I attempt to solve this by having plenty of supplies in stock. We buy lamps for every type of instrument by the case, and reorder when before we deplete our stock. I also try to have a vast supply of gel, tapes, tie line, hardware, repair parts, etc. on hand. It is VERY frustrating not to have access to things when you need them. Especially since the need for them usually arises from someone who did not communicate a technical need in advance, or made an assumption that we could not plan for.

    In addition to trying to plan ahead, I try to develop good relationships with other venues in our area. There has been many times I have bailed out someone in need of spare lamps or hardware on short noticed. It is nice to know there are people in the area who might be resource to help in a pinch.

    ~Dave
     
  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    33 miles one way, 40 minutes w/o traffic, realistically about 50 minutes. The one time I tried getting there, I got stuck on the wrong side of a river, which had a set or railroad tracks running parallel to it. The only way to get to their shop was to go over that bridge, and because of three trains, each one coming to a complete stop, I ended up waiting about 85 minutes before I got over the bridge, so an already long trip became twice as long as it should've been.
     
  5. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    My local theatrical supplier, Cal Stage, is 17 miles from the Pageant, in Santa Ana, CA. This is typically a 30 to 40 minute drive, one way. As for more conventional suppliers, I drive by three Home Despots (Yes, that's a deliberate misspelling) on my way to work, and there are two others on the way to Cal Stage, so I usually do those runs on my way in or I make multiple stops on my supply runs. We also have two local hardware stores, Coast Hardware, and Ganahl Lumber within a half mile of the Pageant. Our primary audio supplier, Micworks is 14 miles away in Irvine, CA.
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    I have a Barbizon (though there prices are HIGH) about 15 miles away, though with Atlanta traffic thats about an hour drive. I actually have them ship everything to me because I don't have time to do the drive and I don't get milage paid.
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    You don't want to know what the shipping charges are when buying tape by the case, and it comes palletized by common carrier.

    Answered your own question. Have you made friends with the TD of this Touring House? Connections can be very useful when you need to borrow a cup of gaff tape, or that single BTL lamp.
     
  8. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    when i was in high school the nearest shop was in madison and thats about an hour away and then milwaukee is about an hour and a half a way. there was a hardware store in rockford which was 30mins a way and that sold gaffe. but when we needed anything we had to order it which that involves going through the proper channels at the high school and then waiting for them to ship it. we could generally receive shipments in about a week.
     
  9. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    Yea, I'm actually hoping to possibly help out there on as many shows as I can, both for the experience and for establishing some connections. Unfortunately, the place isn't even open yet - it won't be officially done for about another month. Also, the timing of the show worked against me. There are many local schools which I'm sure would have been more than willing to let me take a lamp off their hands, but since the show was in mid-August, there was not really anyone there who would know anything about that. And I was unable to reach the TD at my school as he was out of town for the week or something.

    I'm actually quite surprised at these answers. It seems like a common phrase on CB is "at my/your local theatrical supply house" or something similar. Unfortunately, buying tape by the case is not really something I can afford at the moment. Ah well. At least its good to know I'm not the only one with these issues.
     
  10. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    I have two local dealers in SLC. Probably about a 10 minute drive to either. Both are full theatre suppliers, and both do major business outside of SLC and Utah. I always call in my orders, unless I happen to be out running errands and just need to pick something up. They both have any of the lamps that I need, and most of the time they have most anything else I need on a regular basis in stock.

    Sometimes, on bigger ticket orders that don't have a time constraint I will shop around, and often I can do better by ordering from some of the larger companies. However, even though I know that I can get better prices on things like templates and gel if I ordered them and had them shipped I still buy from my local guys and keep a good relationship with them. I also do things like get them tickets to shows.
     
  11. church

    church Active Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    here in Cambridge Ontario there are three large lighting and sound suppliers and rental shops in a town of 120,000 people not to mention at least another six within an hours drive. If I need consumables beyond my own stock I can get most lamps flter etc seven days a week. However I know people come to Cambridge for rentals over a wide area
     
  12. nobl13

    nobl13 Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    There's a local music shop that also sells gaffers tape, glow tape and the like. That's less than a mile away. The local Lowe's and Home Depot are only 5-10 miles away as well. As for real lighting supply, there is none in this area. The closest places would be High Output and Moonlighting down in Portland, ME, 130 miles away.

    For the most part, we order supplies in bulk from Production Advantage. I try to have 3-10 spare lamps for each type of unit and several rolls of gaff on hand. I also have a great relationship with all the other local theatres, so emergency borrowing generally isn't a problem either.
     
  13. quarterfront

    quarterfront Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    My local place is about 5 miles away, about 15 minutes in Kansas City, MO traffic.

    I guy gel there, but buy my lamps from Eclipse as there's a serious price difference. Gaff tape is usually from Production Advantage for the same reason. Makes me sad, I'd rather do business locally, but the price per lamp, even paying shipping is at least +40% at my local place. Unfortunately, my local theatre supply store only gets my business when I've screwed up and run out stock on something I have to have right away.
     
  14. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    Unfortunatly for you there are not to many local shops in central ny, the reason for this is that Syracuse Scenery and Stage Lighting is located in syracuse, and they stock just about all the esential last minute stuff. Last summer one of the departments made the 2 hour round trip to SSSL every week to pick something up.
     
  15. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    I second Derek about knowing people with supplies on hand. I'm in Toronto and buy from ChristieLites (which would be about a hour drive one way). In your situation, where you need it NOW, your supply store will always be either too far away or closed because it's past 5pm. If you have a friendly TD's cel number, on the other hand, it's usually always open and only costs me the replacement of his stock plus a pint. :)
    And for next time in whatever rental house, you could always casually inquire where the spare bulbs are kept should you have a lamp blow. It least that will let you know where you stand.
    Cheers!
    Sean
     
  16. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    For my high school, it was a 40-minute drive one way to Mainstage in Milwaukee.

    For my college, it's a 2 hour drive to the Cities, where we usually use Gopher Stage Lighting or Norcostco. Usually we have items shipped since we usually never rent, nor do we ever really purchase something that would be cheaper to pick up rather than ship.

    I think we pick up a lot of things online as well, gaffer from ULine, Audio Cords from Sweetwater...
     
  17. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    Up home, the nearest shop outside of DC is about 20 minutes from my house. They have a smaller showroom, because they mainly focus on rentals, but if you need anything they are great with special orders, or anything they don't have in stock.

    I am pretty sure down here at Virginia Tech, that store is still the closest theatrical store :grin:
    but I am sure there is one in Roanoke, or in any of the major areas about an hour to two hours drive from us.
     
  18. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops



    You may consider a call to Pegasus Theatrical in Southfield. Google Maps shows them a little closer at about 50 miles. (not that this is across the street or anything...)

    PEGASUS THEATRICAL : Professional Sales, Rental, and Event Production
     
  19. DijiStudios

    DijiStudios Member

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    Re: %26quot%3BLocal%26quot%3B Theatrical Supply Shops

    I live in Boca Raton, Florida but the theater where I work at is in the heart of West Palm Beach. It's a 35 minute drive just to get to the theater alone. In between, there are a few different stores that have scattered supplies, but when I need supplies I just have the theater pay me and I order them.

    I'm one of the only businesses with dealerships with some theatrical companies such as ETC in the area, so it just makes things easier.

    Ordering can be a real pain, though. I wish there were local places where I could get about the same rate as I would through my dealership, seeing as I only sell to the theater for the most part.

    -Matt
     
  20. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Being in Brooklyn, NYC, finds me surrounded by many, many theatrical vendors - PRG, 4 Wall, GSD (now called Lights Up), Barbizon, Rosebrand, Mutual Theatrical Hardware, Silver & Sons, BML, Scharf-Weisberg, Bulbtronics, etc....

    ALL of them are at least an hour away, in NYC metro area traffic.

    So I pretty much get stuff on-line and have it shipped, often from Bulbtronics or Production Advantage, and thus have to allow lead time for shipping as well as keeping stuff in stock, no different then being 120 miles into the woods of Northern Maine.

    Only real advantage to so many local suppliers, is if I can't get something from Lights Up - gel or gobo comes to mind, in a few days due to out-of-stock, chances are somebody local will have it.

    Steve B.
     

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