Rent-to-own stores doing well in tough economy

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Kevin Copeland

Paul Lindley is shopping for a new TV, but worries over the economy, may drive him to rent one instead.

“I know you probably pay a little bit more than you normally would, but right now the way the economy is…let’s say you’ve been laid off from your job, you can bring it back,” says Lindley.

Managers at Dallas-based Rent-A-Center say their customers now include many with better incomes who might not normally shop rent to own stores.

“People are having to learn to manage their finances and their lifestyle differently, and with rent to own we give them that option,” says manager Ashley Choate.

Veronica Picaso started shopping at Rent-A-Center 6 years ago and likes the flexibility offered by renting.

“If you don’t like something you can always return it and get something else. I like change out my living room furniture and everything, like every year. I have something new, something different,” says Picaso.

Rent to own stores get a lot of customers with short term needs, and most return the item within the first few months.

At Rent-A-Center, only one in 20 customers wind up owning by making every rent payment, which is much more expensive than retail.

Rent-a-Center’s Xavier Dominic says, “Everything is out there on the price tag when you come in so you know how much it is to pay cash, how much it is 90 days same as cash, if you make every payment to the end, here’s how much you pay so it’s about choices.”

Paul Lindley is trying to narrow down his choices.

“I’m gonna weigh it all out however I want to do it, so whether I save up the money and just go to Walmart and buy one or rent a center put it on the credit card on the plastic, I don’t know,” he says.

theGrio asks: Do you rent to own? Why?