During the 1940's and 50's, nearly everyone depended upon their local dairy to deliver the family's milk to their doorstep each day. As part of a dairy farm cooperative in New York State, Baxter's Dairy was among the best at providing this service to the community. By the early 1960's however, Ed Baxter saw the tide changing. With the advent of convenience stores, and expanded supermarket hours, he recognized the impending demise of the home delivery concept and began to explore other options for putting his business talents to use.
After reading an article in Fortune magazine, Baxter set out for franchise school in Lincoln, Nebraska and entered the tool and equipment rental business at United Rent-All: the Nation's Neighbor. After visiting Charleston, South Carolina on the occasion of his eldest son's wedding, Mr. Baxter realized that the more temperate climate of the south was much more to his liking than the long, harsh winters of New York, and he began to search for a location for his fledgling business. An acquaintance who was originally from Burnsville, North Carolina pointed Baxter toward the growing Tri-Cities region as a potential site. With its good schools, mild weather, and hospitable, harmonious community, Johnson City won his favor and he soon moved the business and family here, establishing himself at 2711 North Roan Street in1962.
It was not long before Ed Baxter's idea to serve the community with the tools and equipment necessary for home projects, construction jobs, and special events became a reality. Well established on his own, Baxter soon dropped his franchise agreement and began operations as East Tennessee Rent-Alls. The rest, as they say, is history.
By 1974 the time had come to expand this ever growing dream, and the business moved to 3605 Bristol Highway. The new location allowed Mr. Baxter to offer a wide selection of items in greater quantity. Now it was possible to cater to the needs of both professionals and individuals alike. There is hardly a family or business in the Tri-Cities region which has not benefited from Mr. Baxter's vision at some point in the past four decades. Whether the need was for construction equipment to build a dream home, a tent or canopy for hosting elegant outdoor wedding, or rollaway beds for overnight guests, East Tennessee Rent-Alls has become the place to call for all sorts of rental options!
The 1980's brought with it new technologies and new ventures for small business owners. It has been said that variety is the spice of life and this could not be truer than in the rental business. Ed Baxter's son, Jim assisted his father by bringing new ideas and ushering in the next generation for the company. A bounding economy allowed for city growth and expansion which created an urgent need for construction equipment. East Tennessee Rent-Alls met this challenge by becoming the Tri-Cities' exclusive Bobcat Dealer and Distributor in 1981, providing sales, service, parts and of course rentals. Along with this growing demand for machinery, the rising number of creative and special events prompted the formation of another division; Celebrate, which specialized in wedding and party equipment as well as a dedicated costume department. This enabled local caterers and entertainment providers a chance to add a new level of quality and class to any special event. Items such as candelabras and linens for receptions to backdrops and themed decor for any imaginable party were available. If any of these events required a guest to be in a theme appropriate costume or even a mascot type costume, Celebrate was there as the Tri-Cities' one stop shop.
Ed Baxter continued to advise East Tennessee Rent-Alls until his death in 2001, at the ripe old age of 90. Now, along with his wife Judy, Jim Baxter has taken the stewardship of East Tennessee Rent-Alls to heart and continues to pursue his family's dream. Following tradition, Jim now has assistance from his son, Josh, as another period of growth and expansions begins.
On the 4th of October 2004, East Tennessee Rent-Alls moved to a brand new state of the art facility located at 3711 Bristol Highway, encompassing Equipment and Tools, Parts and Service, and a new Bobcat showroom and service center. Celebrate now resides in its own building which houses 2 showrooms. The first showroom features the Grand Special Events department to assist in planning and provide equipment for weddings and parties. The other showcases a bold new direction in the form of Celebrate Studios. Building on its expansive costume division, Celebrate Studios now offers movie and Broadway style costumes as well as special effects equipment, specialty make-up, and Theatrical Design. Celebrate Studios is also one of the only costume manufacturing facilities in the South, offering costumes to clients worldwide.