In the 13-years that I owned my tent business, sidewalls were constantly the thorn in my side. We would install a beautiful tent and one or two of the fifteen sidewalls had visible cracks from “wind whip” and made the entire tent look bad. It seemed that whatever price we paid for sidewalls the outcome was always the same – the walls got wind-whipped, grommets tore out and bottoms became tattered. When it comes to sidewalls for pole or frame tents it seemed that price, vinyl weight, where they were made (US or overseas) made little difference in the length of time that the sidewalls lasted (structure tent sidewalls are different and will be talked about latter).
When sidewalls are hung on a frame or pole tent they undergo an immense amount of wind stressors. If connected around the poles the walls will not “flap”, but will billow (much like a sail on a boat) which causes extreme stressors on the alligator clips, stitching and buckles. Over a few installs these pieces begin to fail (tear, bend, etc.) and the wall will become unusable within 10 to 12 installs. Many companies go an extra step and secure the bottoms of the sidewalls with stakes. While this certainly helps with flapping and creates a more airtight environment it provides even more stress on the buckles and clips as well as grommets along the bottom of the wall. At one point my company even went so far as to solicit major tent manufacturers in our industry to build us sidewalls that carried a manufacturer 2-year replacement warranty. Even if they doubled (or more) the price (which they all did) they still were not excited about the opportunity and wanted to add stipulations that would void the warranty. In the end it didn’t make sense for us or for them to proceed with the project as it proved not cost efficient for either of us. Our final determination was that sidewalls need to be looked at as a disposable commodity that we would get possibly seven to ten uses at A-quality after which they were B to C quality and could only be used for festivals, car lots, storage or other tents where functionality was more important that aesthetics. Under this conclusion we decided to purchase sidewalls from secondary manufacturers or overseas manufacturers who could produce a good product at a price that could be recovered in four to five rentals. Along those lines we charged $1.00/lf for solid and mesh sidewalls and $2.00/lf for window or clear sidewalls – your market may allow for higher pricing, but this should be a minimum charge per linear foot. Since we purchased sidewalls for approximately $100 for a 8’x20’ piece we recovered our price in five or six rentals and made profit on the seventh rental and on. While we certainly tried (and did) to make a profit on our sidewalls we looked at them as a necessary evil to rent the tent (which was the real money maker).
Structure tent sidewalls are different from pole or frame in that they usually are a coated vinyl (which is much more durable and much more expensive) and become a part of the total structure in that they are attached to the tent framing on three sides thru a keder system and on the bottom by a pocket where a pole is slid and attaches to the legs. This system creates a much more forgiving environment for the sidewall and therefore results in much longer usage. It was not uncommon for our company to get 50+ installs on our sidewalls for our keder tents. For structure tents (and structure tents only) we found that spending a little more for a quality made coated vinyl sidewall was a good investment, but where they were actually manufactured makes little difference.
At TentWallZ we have taken our years of tenting experience and applied it to our quality and pricing. We sell a high quality pole or frame tent sidewall for less than 5x rental rate (assuming minimum charge of $1/lf) which enables the end user to install a quality product and give the ability to rotate worn sidewalls out as needed. For our structure tent users our 18 oz., coated sidewall provides industry standard high quality at incredible pricing.
We are not the same as our competitors – we were end users before we were suppliers. Order now thru our website for same day shipping or call our friendly sales staff and we will happily entertain any questions you might have on how to make money with sidewalls.