Located inside a three-floor, 91,000-square-foot Long Island City warehouse lies a world only seen in movies or television.
Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. is one of the largest prop rental companies on the East Coast. It made the western Queens neighborhood its home about two years ago after moving from Manhattan, where it was founded and was housed for over three decades.
The company was started by Suri Bieler, who began her career as a prop person in theater. She decided she wanted to have a steady business rather than work as a freelancer, so she looked into prop renting.
She then realized that renting props did not work for theater because of various reasons such as no known end date for shows and even a superstition about renting props among the theater community. So instead, Bieler decided to go into renting for television and film, and with only $175 she began Eclectic.
“I realized I had to get huge overnight. Just because you have a name for a company doesn’t mean people want to use it,” she said.
A few years later she approached the owners of another prop company named Encore, which at the time was celebrating its 100th anniversary, and she purchased Encore, bringing along all of its props.
Since then Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. has grown into offering millions of items, big or small, that have been used in television shows, movies, off-Broadway shows and at parties.
“People don’t really think that a prop company exists,” Bieler said. “If it’s filming in New York we’re probably renting to them.”
As you walk through the building, located at 47-51 33rd St., you’ll find props organized in different sections based on themes and uses. There is a section for almost every region of the world such as Africa and Asia; there are categories for different kinds of television sets ranging from modern to vintage ones; and there’s a room dedicated entirely to toys from different time periods.
Almost every wall throughout the warehouse has paintings or different art pieces that can be rented, and there are also binders scattered throughout to help visitors get more detailed looks into various items, which are all individually bar-coded.
Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. offers items from large furniture pieces to even the smallest details that can be found in movies or shows such as small picture frames, vanity items such as perfume bottles or men’s shaving sets, and even paper that is thrown in drawers.
Bieler’s husband is responsible for the “free-flowing layout” of the facility and is also the owner and creator of “Monsterpalooza -The Art of Monsters,” a convention in Burbank, California, that promotes the artists who make the monsters in film.
“[I enjoy] just being able to help customers find all the pieces they are looking for and creating that world they want us to believe when we go to the movies because I do believe,” she said. “There’s a history they are trying to present. All the details of a life go into decorating for film, television, and even Broadway.”
The company also offers rooms for rent and recently opened up a studio available for photographers.
Some shows which the company has rented out props to include “Girls,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” “Sex and the City,” “The Good Wife” and “The Sopranos.”
Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. has also provided props for big motion pictures such as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Big,” “Carlito’s Way,” “Ghostbusters,” “I am Legend,” “Mr. Deeds,” “National Treasure,” “Night at the Museum,” the “Spider-Man” trilogy and “The Devil Wears Prada.”
“A business like this is never finishes. It’s always growing. It’s always a lot of fun,” Bieler said. “It’s an interesting way of collecting. I’m very lucky I made a business out of it.”
People can find every item available for rent at the warehouse on the company’s website and Bieler hopes to one day make the warehouse open to tours where visitors will be able to get an idea of the history of particular items and also who has rented them in the past.