Need a prop? NE Mpls shop has you covered

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October 3, 2013
By: Danielle Dullinger // Murphy News Service
Photo by Danielle Dullinger
Danielle Dullinger // Murphy News Service

Lamps. Chairs. Trunks. Puppets. Costumes. Telephones. Dishes. Props galore. You name it, and Prop It Up likely has it.

Prop It Up is a prop supply house in northeast Minneapolis that rents props out to theaters, production companies, high schools or individuals needing props or decorations.

The prop house opened in Chanhassen three years ago, but moved to northeast Minneapolis a little more than a year ago to be more centrally located, Karla Cahlander, co-owner of Prop It Up, said.

Cahlander, of Excelsior, has a background in video and production that dates to the 1980s. She was a video film production manager and in charge bringing together all aspects of a production including props, she said.

When Cahlander was in the production business, there were many prop houses in the Twin Cities area, she said.

“Options for getting props have dwindled, which is frustrating,” said Susan Calvit, a Twin Cities freelancer who has worked in television, broadcast and print for more then 20 years. Calvit has worked as a set stylist, art director and production designer for companies like Adidas, Footlocker, Wal-Mart Stores, Honda and more.

Cahlander decided to open Prop It Up due to the lack of prop houses in a theater-oriented community like Minneapolis, she said. The move to northeast Minneapolis was a step that she hopes will help her business, as well as theaters, in the area, she said.

“Northeast is the mecca for production and the arts,” she said. “We can service more people, more markets.”

Walking into Prop It Up’s location at 1209 Tyler St., customers can see all the props on display. The 2,500-square-foot warehouse consists of three rooms with props from floor to ceiling.

Laurie Hernandez, Cahlander’s business partner, does most of the searching for props, Cahlander said. They utilize Craigslist, antique stores and the company’s reuse program “Prop It Up Again” to obtain the props they rent.

“Prop It Up Again” is a program that theaters or individuals can use if “they don’t want to throw props away or they want to get use out of them again,” Cahlander said.

Props can be stored at their location and rented out to others. Prop It Up will give those storing the props with them 25 percent of the rental fee.

Calvit utilizes this program.

“I don’t have to get a space of my own,” she said. “There’s a place to put my things.”

The accommodation aspect is what makes Prop It Up attractive to production companies and theaters, Calvit said.

“Her background and her wealth of knowledge really makes her understand my job,” Calvit said.

Calvit works with tight budgets and “crazy schedules,” she said.

“She’s willing to work within reason,” Calvit said. “She’ll work with me to help me out with the money I have.”

Cahlander is very good about finding props she does not have from other places, Calvit said.

“She goes above and beyond what she has there,” Calvit said.

“If I don’t have something, I’m happy telling you where you can find it,” Cahlander said. “We will try to locate it.”

Cahlander hopes to continue to grow in northeast Minneapolis. She said weddings, especially gay marriage weddings recently, have been a growing market for Prop It Up.

“We think it’s a great location, and we’re reaching more and more people all the time,” Cahlander said. “We want to make a go of this. It’s important, and it’s fun.”

And hey, you never know when you might need an old telephone. Or a zebra-striped vintage chair. Or a sleigh.

Danielle Dullinger is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota. To learn more about the Murphy News Service, visit