Finding a way to keep hula hoops orderly and at the same time accessible during street fairs and other events has been a bit of a challenge. I noticed the hula hoop rack Julia Hartsell was using at Shakori last year, and when an old bunk bed showed up at the swap shed, I made use of some of the parts to create something similar. The notion of “Rack” was successful because the children at the YMCA Family Fun day reliably brought their hoops back to the rack so I didn’t have to chase them down as much during the day. Unfortunately, the design was weak and when we tossed the unit into the truck, hurrying to get out of the way of the approaching thunderstorm, the pegs snapped and it broke. I repaired the joint but next time out, a burst of wind carried the umbrella out of its stand, over a table, spearing the set up like an overlarge lawn dart. Broke again.
It was time to try something new.
Before investing much more effort in design, I thought to google “hula hoop racks,” and hit pay dirt. The second link led me to something that looked remarkably like the clothing rack I had in the closet. Unfortunately, my clothing rack had only one bar across the bottom, which wouldn’t support hoops, but I could make it work. A bit of work with bungees and two spare pieces of 1″ PVC pipe that happened to by hanging around (score one for hoarding) and I had an equivalent.
We worked Siler City Alive last weekend, and I took my new hula hoop rack as a test. It worked wonderfully, given the investment and materials. The hoops stayed reasonably organized and the children knew where to bring them back to; within reason, hoops were accessible individually. Unfortunately, the bungee-supported PVC pipe slipped sideways several times, tipping the hoops out on the ground. Similarly, with only one support pole at each end of the rack, the extra-large hoops on the outside tended to flop a bit more than I really like.
It was time for a trip to A&B Store Fixtures.
They operate warehouses full of new and used retail display hardware–cases, shelving, decorations, you name it. Wandering through even the Raleigh A&B warehouse is an amazing trip through a world most of us never notice. (The Greensboro store runs to four warehouses and holds even more, and more varied, merchandise.) Sunglass and watch cases. Wallet turntables. Shoe racks. Shelving to display expensive handbags, or teddy bears. Some of the units are branded and others anonymous. Manikins of every description, posed and stylized or somewhat naturalistic and reusable. Partial bodies used to sell “parts,” such as underwear or gloves. Clothes hangers and racks to store clothes hangers.
The clothing-rack-for-hoops turned out to be fairly easy. They had two models with two bars across the bottom and wheels, one with single-pole risers and one with double. The double-bar rack holds the hula hoops more securely; check. Problem solved, no shipping.
I’ve used this hula hoop rack for two years of events, rolling it in from parking lots across relatively uneven ground, moving hoops undercover when a rain squall blows in across the sound, and generally keeping hula hoop spaces in order. It’s a little rusted around the edges because I store it in an unheated shed outside, but the rust doesn’t affect how it works. I use chains of four leather belts as dividers to keep the hula hoops relatively upright. (Started with bungees, but belts don’t snap back if they break and bungees aren’t safe around children.) Will post a picture next time I have the hoops at an event.