Portable Gazebos And Marquees

Many portable gazebo and marquee are notorious for their poor quality, but this not always the case. Simon Braunthal has some enlightening news…

Portable gazebos and marquees – also known as ‘easy up’ or ‘pop up’ portable shades – have been in the Australian market for around 20 years. They are characterized by their scissor action frame designs that make them easy to fold (some brands claim that they can be folded in 30 seconds or less) and they range from simple compact portable marquees to larger fold away units. The standard portable gazebo or marquee comes in a 3 m x 3 m frame, and most well known brands now also offer 3 m x 4.5 m and 3 m x 6 m units. Wall kits and accessories (representing good upsell opportunities) are common, as are varied colours and print schemes.

The market

The clear driving force behind these products has been so called ‘duty of care’ responsibility. Just about anyone holding an outdoor event these days must ensure that attendees are provided with adequate shelter from the sun, so for obvious reasons this includes schools, sporting clubs, market stalls, campers, motorsports, as well as individuals. As with any product, you get what you pay for. Lower end product remains very common in Australia, despite our often harsh climate, and it is not uncommon for retailers to have had poor experiences after selling inexpensive pops ups that break after minimal use. Strength, quality and durability are tied cost, and while there is certainly a market for entry level designs, no retailer wants to see their product returned by an unhappy customer.

Duty of care

As we all know, prolonged sun exposure carries many potential health risks, so providing your customers with an adequate product is the best way to minimize the risk. For portable gazebos, be sure to check up on the product’s UV protection (a UPF rating of 50+ is seen as the minimal requirement), waterproofing, and wind resistance characteristics when researching a brand. Some other areas to take a closer look at include the following:

Canopy material

Be cautious with thinner materials that do not appear to offer durability or UV protection. They may only be water resistant rather than water proof which means they can be easily torn and stretched, creating a sagging point in the canopies. This is best avoided because water can pool in these sagging spots and collapse the frame, leaving a pile of useless twisted framework.

Frame structure

The frame is what provides the support so this is an extremely important factor. Watch out for frames that do not have an internal cross frame section, since these can blow inward and collapse. Also, the wall in an entry level frame (e.g. one for camping or the occasional weekend BBQ) should be at least 1 mm thick.

Spare Parts

Many products (more so in the entry level market) are riveted together and do not come with spare parts or support offered by suppliers. Look for brands with smaller components that can be posted in the mail and for bolt on/off components.

Community involvement

As mentioned, many retailers have at some point stocked ‘cheap and nasties’ but were bitten when that product was returned due to its inferior quality. For this reason, stores that are heavily involved in their local communities can genuinely push these products by demonstrating their use at local events. Almost any community group that organises an outdoor event can find a use for a gazebo, which means you can position yourself so that customers come to you for answers if you happen to be the kind of store that takes a proactive approach in your community. Indeed, the market is now offering better solutions, so don’t be put off by what may have once been a bad experience.

Simon Braunthal is the Director for Altegra Australia P/L. Call 1300 784 552 or visit www.altegra.com.au/ for more information.