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Sundrella aluminum patio umbrellas – in production since 1956

sundrella-aluminum-patio-umbrella-structure

Some days I am just so gosh-darned pleased with myself, and today is one of those days — due to this discovery. Last weekend at the Ohana Luau on the Lake tiki fest, David and I drove a mile into downtown Lake George to check it out. There were lots of groovy 50s and 60s motels, so we took a long walk exploring. At one of them I spotted these really cool aluminum patio umbrellas and, oh my goodness, did they not ever look like they came straight from the 1950s? Well, it turns out that — they are straight from 1956 — and they are still in production — and you can buy one if you want.

sundrella-aluminum-patio-umbrella

The company that manufactures and sells them is named Sundrella (yes, with a “d”), and it’s been based in Phoenix since 1956 — when it got started building this very same 701 aluminum umbrella (above). In fact, according to Kaycie, a most wonderful manager in the retail area at Sundrella, the company built only 701 umbrellas for the next 22 years, until 1978, when the current owners bought the company.

sundrella

The new owners then began expanding the product line to include chairs, tables and other outdoor funiture. There’s a broad portfolio today.

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All these many years, its main clientele has been commercial outlets — hotels, motels, resorts, and for a long while but not lately: McDonalds. “Oh yeahhhhh,” I hear you all saying right along with me: “McDonalds. I remember these now.” Can you believe they are still available?

sundrella-aluminum-patio-umbrella-701-designer

You might see a new one like this at a Dairy Queen – still an active customer. Did you know that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns Dairy Queen? I LOVE DQ!

sundrella-aluminum-patio-umbrella-701-alternating

Okay, not to burst your bubble. But, these do not come cheap. Kaycie says that the factory-direct pricing through year-end is $517. And then, there is shipping. These suckers weigh in at 55 lbs. and need to be cemented into the ground. So, gulp, sit down when you hear the shipping cost. These are serious umbrellas.

sundrella-aluminum--patio-umbrella-701-solid

Nonetheless, they are wicked cool.

They are MADE IN THE USA, hurray. They are all-aluminum and don’t rust. Just shine them up yearly with: Turtle Wax. The 40 “veins” can be powder-coat-painted in your choice of 18 mix-and-match Charlie Brown sweater stripe colors. And Kaycie says there are even some discontinued colors — like turquoise and peach — still stashed away. Turquoise? Peach? You know we are all over those.

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If you want some retro seating to go with, Kaycie recommends the Arroyo line (above). These were the first designs following the 1978 acquisition.

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These are vintage chairs at the same place in as the umbrellas, along the hotel/motel boardwalk in Lake George. These babies last forever, and in fact, Kaycie says they get folks coming in all the time with chairs that are 30 years old and just need new vinyl straps. If you’re into retro renovation, I bet you’re into reduce, reuse, recycle, too. It pays to buy stuff that lasts — and it’s amazing, really, the quality you often see in postwar products of even the most humble origins.

Where to get them:

Again:

Original link in 2009 story: AZ Umbrellas

  1. Robbie C says:

    Hi Jacquie,

    I feel your pain love those reto metal umbrella – I found some at a hotel in Palm Springs and they were originals. Yellow and white stripe. I hope you find the ones you want somewhere – keep me posted if you do I want one too!

    Robbie Ann

  2. Joe,Torres says:

    Hello.driving home one hot day,Saw one of these umbrella in a front yard,So I stopped to see if they would sell it,That good man told me it was free for me,SO WOW.Got it home, Right away started to work on it,Remove all veins,strip to bare aluminum,and painted it Denver Broncos colors, And yes still has Sundrella sticker on it .
    Looks brand new.

  3. I just purchased a aluminum umbrella at a yard sale recently. The sections of aluminum are connected together with a flat seam making it solid. Colors are evergreen and white. Does anybody know anything about it.? Trying to figure out the age, maker, and value. Thank you

  4. Jake says:

    Bought mine in 1988. Put it away during snow season, otherwise it is outside all the time. Have never had a problem with high winds – it’s out in a rural open area…. just keeps turning with the wind. Still like new after 25 years. (Michigan). 🙂 🙂

  5. Violet says:

    So….. I just got off the phone with Ron. His brother still makes them. I love the passion that he has for these umbrellas . His number is 623-516-2010. It takes about a week to get one painted any way you want. I’m soooooo excited. I don’t think the brothers will let this umbrella go quietly into the night.

  6. Eric says:

    Sundrella did sell the furniture portion of the business, but the original 701 umbrella is still being made in Phoenix. The employees are the same people who have making the umbrellas for many years. The materials are the same, the design is the same.

  7. pam kueber says:

    Thanks, Violet — I did a story back in 2009 and updated the link. They really need to update their website….

  8. Greg says:

    I am SO, SO GLAD to read that the aluminum umbrellas are still being made, and still being made in Phoenix. Believe it, or not my dad worked, and built the aluminum umbrellas at Sundrella Aluminum from 1962 to 1966 when he passed unexpectedly at 34. My dad brought home scraps from work and actually made my mom and entire patio set, table, chairs, umbrella, even a small awning over the master bedroom window, which still hangs there as of this day. My mom, subsequently rebound married, the guy was a real piece of work, and systematically got rid of everything my dad had work SO HARD for, and one of which was our beautiful patio set.
    For years, up until my mother died in 1977 at the age of 44, she would ALWAYS, EVERYTIME we saw one of those beautiful umbrella’s, be it at a hotel/motel, WHEREVER it was, she’d stop, and look up inside the umbrella. She said dad had told her that all of the workers, including him, always put their name on the underside of the umbrella. She looked for him on the undersides of the umbrella’s for 11 years. She swore if she ever found one, she would pay whatever the owner wanted for it, just to have a piece of him back. I look for her now. Almost 50 years, and I still look..

  9. kellyanne says:

    If you are still looking for one if those umbrellas I have one it’d an original sundrella in excellent condition give me a call 541-519-5197

  10. Sandy Filkowski says:

    We have one of the original 701 Umbrellas that came from a McDonalds in Santa Maria, CA sometime in the 60’s. It is in great shape after spending 45 years at our mountain home in the Sierras.

    I was so glad to see this posting with all the great information.

  11. Greg says:

    I’m truly touched by the kind comments I’ve received from everyone. You all have touched my heart. I’m in Kentucky now, but moving back to Phoenix shortly. I’ve bought my home there, and just putting this place in order, in order to put it up for sale. When I get home to Phoenix, I WILL have another Sundrella Umbrella in my backyard, just like the one dad made. Dad made ours in the white, with misty blue, kind of an aqua blue. It was beautiful. I have home movies, and pics of the set in our back yard back in the ’60’s.
    If ANY of the people on here that have original umbrella’s from the early – mid ’60’s, and would be kind enough to check up, on the inside plate for the name of Chris M., or initials C.M., and maybe with a date next to it for me, that would be GREATLY, GREATLY appreciated!!
    Again, thank you all for your kind hearted words,
    Greg

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