The Tipi Hire Company and The Bell Tent Shop
Farm Diversity magazine editor Victoria Galligan caught up with Anji Morrall, the director of The Tipi Hire Company and The Bell Tent Shop. Here, she advises those setting up glampsites on choosing the perfect tents…
How did you get into making tipi tents?
We started hiring North American tipis 12 years ago. I bought one tipi to live in on a plot of land we were going to buy in Spain. The sale fell through – and I was left with a tipi. I then made a website and it took off overnight.
Five years down the line, I asked our customers what they wanted and bell tents were becoming popular. We started hiring our bell tents for extra accommodation at weddings, festivals, corporate events etc. and we now have over 500 that we hire our throughout the summer months across the UK and beyond.
We decided a few years back to start manufacturing our own bell tents as we knew what we wanted and what the perfect all-rounder bell tent looked like. The Bell Tent Shop was born!
What are the most popular types of tents at the moment, and why?
The most popular tents are bell tents. They are easy to put up (10 mins, one person), they have plenty of headroom inside and are perfect for living in! The canvas is 100% cotton canvas which breathes. This stops the wet, sticky feeling that you get inside plastic tents.
Are you seeing an increase in trade year-on-year?
The hire side has been amazing for the last five years. We do have a lot of competition now but our sales are still as good as two to three years ago. The sales side is flying and we are getting busier each year as bell tents become so popular.
Do farmers tend to buy or hire the tents, or do you find there is a mixture of both methods?
We deal with lots of farmers and there seems to be a mix of renting and buying. It makes more sense to buy as our price for a 4m bell tent is £360, and the rental on this is £170 for the weekend. The figures say it all!
What is the typical lifespan of a bell tent/tipi? How often would they need to be replaced?
If you look after your bell tent and store it away bone dry you will get up to 10 years. You will need to reproof after 60 weeks of continuous use. It’s best not to pitch under trees as the sap falling off the leaves will damage the canvas.
If the bell tent is up all summer then it will need to be maintained at least once a week.
Could you offer some care advice for farmers with bell tents/tipis?
Check the tents at least once a week. Tighten the guy ropes and brush off bird droppings and dirt with a soft brush.
What advice do you have for farmers setting up glampsites with bell tents or tipis?
It is fine to pitch anywhere, except under trees or too close to hedgerows. If you do pitch under trees, the tent won't last as long. Our 4m bell tents are ideal for two people and fine for four people. Our 5m bell tents are great for four to six people. The 6m bell tents are suitable for 6 to 8 people. An awning is a good idea to give shade and somewhere to put shoes/wellies.
And decorate as nicely as possible inside! Glamping is very popular, and if you can supply real beds too, people will come back for more!