It all started with a taco stand. I’d just moved back to the east coast from California and had a grand plan to bring some SoCal taco goodness to my city. Do I cook particularly well? No. Have I ever made tacos before? Once or twice. Did I have a location to pop up with these hypothetical tacos? No. But that didn’t stop me, (hello fellow founders and business owners, this is how we roll, right?), and I thought, first things first, let me get out my folding table and see how I’m going to set this stand up. It’s gonna be great.
So I go to the basement and under the box of Christmas decorations there’s old faithful: a slab of grey plastic that I hoped would be the future home of a taco empire: your basic cheap folding table. And here’s how the first five minutes of my big dream play out:
I drag it out. I lift it up. I have to lift both my elbows up into the air to carry the table up the stairs because its gigantic flat square shape is so unwieldy, and it’s so insanely heavy, that it’s impossible to just carry with normally bent arms because if I did that, the plastic top or metal legs would bang against my knees or ankles on every single step. Somehow it still bangs against my ankle bone. Ow. I haul it into the living room, then out to the back porch. I place it down and catch my breath. I place it sideways and open the legs - only I can’t tell if they’re locked in so I push that little metal clip thing with my fingers and pinch them. Ow. I finally get it upright and feast my eyes on a clunky, old fashioned grey folding table that is, in fact, so much bigger and uglier than the cute pop up I imagined.
And there it is: screw tacos, I’m making the best folding table of all time.
Because, obviously, I’m not the only one out here trying to make Yay happen. Everyone who brings some orange slices and Gatorade to the side of a kids’ sports game needs one. Every farmer’s market stand. Every family hosting relatives galore at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Every birthday party, dinner party, and book club. Every camper who wants a roadside table on their outdoor trip. You get the idea - this was a lot bigger than tacos.
Here’s what stinks about the folding tables you’re all familiar with:
- They’re really heavy: Strong folding tables are a good thing, and indeed, it’s a product that gets beaten up a lot, but does it need to be ridiculously heavy? No. It’s so difficult to move around, even to lug from one room to the next, and stairs? Godspeed.
- Let’s make a durable folding table that’s really lightweight.
- Hard to set up: Once you get this thing where it needs to be, the joy of your experience has just begun. You’ve got to put it on its side, kick open the legs or use your precious fingers to slide a tiny metal piece into the exact right spot and hope it holds.
- Let’s make the legs telescope so they easily snap into place. Folding table design FTW.
- Hard to store: A four-by-four foot, thick, plastic rectangle isn’t exactly subtle. It takes up a weird amount of room and most people end up sliding it under another piece of furniture. Not ideal. It’s no table on wheels, the table dimensions are all out of whack and let’s face it - the majority of a folding table’s life is spent not in use.
- Let’s make the table fold up into a briefcase so it’s super portable, easy to carry, and you can stash it anywhere.
- Just so ugly: This one kills me. It’s that clunky, grey, old fashioned look that makes you want to throw the first blanket you see on top of this thing. Forget your table decorating ideas and your tablescape design. The table top is super thick, the legs are an industrial metal - and those are the ‘modern’ ones, we’ve all seen the wooden ones that are still, somehow, everywhere. It looks like it hasn’t been updated in 30 years and guess what -- it hasn’t!
- Let’s make a cute folding table, design it in a pretty color, and make it slick and modern, so you’d be happy to have it out around your house, yard or event.
- One size fits all: When you bring out a folding outdoor table, that means you’re doing something you don’t normally do, (like, oh I don’t know, opening an ill-advised pop-up taco stand), and that means the event can be unpredictable. You might need a full rectangle, you might need an extra foot of space here or there on either side, or you might want a square shape instead. No luck, you’re stuck with that clunky six foot beast.
- Let’s give the folding table leaves that you can put up or down to make its size adjustable for any occasion, any space.
Wouldn’t all that be nice? Here we are, ready, willing and Yayble. And still, for the record, no idea how to make a great taco.