The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Philly. For evidence of this, look no further than Latiaynna Tabb, owner of Next Door Rentals.
Tabb established the Philadelphia-based event rental company in 2017 as a subsidiary of her existing event management and marketing business, Tabb Management. It was a natural extension of her background in coordinating small- and large-scale events on both a volunteer and professional basis.
“A lot of my experience with events is based on my official career and also my entrepreneurial endeavors,” Tabb says. “Whatever my jobs have been — I’ve done work in human services, social sciences and education — I was required to do a lot of event planning. In my free time, my entrepreneurial business was as a talent manager. So, I managed DJs, musicians, bands, etc. A lot of that entailed me not only managing their careers and participation in community events, but also planning community-facing events for them.”
The convergence of event planning skills, entertainment management and entrepreneurship proved to be the catalyst for Tabb’s launching of Next Door Rentals.
“My partner and I both had experience in producing events for the community and for different brands,” she says. “Right before I started Next Door Rentals, I was managing a community project that was coming to the end of a contract. I understood that party supply items were in demand. I always wanted to open a business that didn’t necessarily require me to ‘be’ the business. So, when thinking about what I was interested in, a party rental supply business made the most sense. At the end of that contract I began planning for the development of this business.”
Unlike some event rental companies who strive to lock in big corporate jobs and other high-profile clientele, Next Door Rentals prefers to keep its focus on smaller, more intimate gatherings.
“That was our target with the whole concept,” says Tabb’s partner, Basiyr King, who serves as the company’s warehouse manager and oversees staffing, inventory management and delivery operations. “We do have some business customers, but most of our customers are individuals. The need to service smaller events and household activities — that all went into the name of our company, ‘Next Door Rentals.’”
Tabb’s and King’s familiarity with event production served them well as their rental business grew and they found themselves needing to develop their own best practices on the fly. “Inventory needs, scaling out what the demand was actually going to be for which items, constantly purchasing new inventory so we wouldn’t lose out on business, and [figuring out] delivery and storage practices. These were kind of learn-as-you-go,” King says, as Tabb points out that “we have been able to figure it all out and not let anything hinder the growth of the business. We don’t want any challenges to stop us. We’ve had growth every year and been able to expand our inventory.”
Although they have experienced their share of typical rental client problems, catering to more community-based customers has been well worth it to the pair.
“We’ve had situations where, for example, people agree to orders and then, on the day of delivery, tell us the items weren’t what they ordered — even though they signed the contract. And similar issues with customers come up. We just change plans on the go to accommodate them even when the problems are not our fault. But then, on the positive side, we’ve had frequent customers who have become friends just because of the way we do business. They have invited us to home barbecues and just include us in different opportunities in their lives. That has been pretty cool,” King says.
Giving back to the community also is important to Tabb and King. Apart from their rental company, they each serve in leadership roles. King has served as president of his college alumni association for the past three years, while Tabb is co-director of Black Girls with Green Thumbs, an urban agricultural organization that teaches gardening and plant-based cooking skills to residents in urban environments.
As their book of business has steadily grown since launching Next Door Rentals, Tabb and King have discussed ambitious ideas for the future. “Currently, just one location is fine, but we do expect to need a larger location as we expand inventory and increase our fleet to take on more orders. Also, we wouldn’t mind having an actual event rental space so we can host parties,” King says, with Tabb adding that “I would also like to offer a party bus.”
Entrepreneurial savvy and dedication to family and community — these are the values that Tabb and King emphasize most of all.
“We have been able to employ our family and friends with our business. That has been a really big deal for us,” Tabb says. “We are a Black-owned, family-run business. That is an important aspect of our business identity and for the growth of our family, to continue to do this for years to come.”