History of furniture stores that offer payment plans
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Headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Aaron’s Inc. is a notable player in the lease to own and rent to own industry. Aaron's provides office furniture, electronics, computers, home furnishings, and appliances. Aaron’s has 2000+ furniture leasing stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Unique to the rent to own and rent to rent industry, Aaron’s also has their own in-house furniture manufacturing and reconditioning facilities through more than a dozen plants in the US.
As a major player in the furniture rental industry, Aaron’s started from simple beginnings. Aaron’s was established in 1955 by founder R. Charles Loudermilk, Sr., self-described as ‘born on the wrong side of the tracks’. He attended Georgia Tech, served in the US Navy, graduated from the University of North Carolina with a business degree and worked with companies such as Pet Milk Company and the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer. Loudermilk was inspired one day when he came across a North Carolina store that rented furniture, and from there he established his first Aarons Furniture rental business in 1955. To get top billing in the phone book he choose the name ‘Aaron’s’.
Loudermilk was a hand-on entrepreneur in the first years of operation, working at his family’s restaurant and pouring every free dollar he could into the furniture rental business. He would pick up furniture on credit wherever he could; army surplus, department stores, furniture manufacturers, sometimes he would pick up the pieces himself and deliver them straight to the customer. He expanded into office furniture, sickroom gear and party equipment. By 1964 he had three Aarons storefronts. Through making the most out of depreciating assets and his rent to own furniture program to lower income families Loudermilk grew prosperous.
By the mid 1970’s Aarons Rentals had 20 furniture “Lease to own” showrooms and were generating $10 million in annual sales in furniture financing. By the 1980’s Aaron’s rents held roughly 15 percent of the furniture rental market, and showed incredible growth through key acquisitions and establishing their own furniture manufacturing capabilities. This helped Aaron’s rental break into rent-to-own and compete with Rent-a-Center R.A.C.and GranTree for the furniture rental market. They also offered franchising and used unique, visible buildings to attract customers, to quote, ‘We don’t want to be hidden in the middle of a shopping center. We want locations comparable to Blockbuster Video. You never see a Blockbuster store that is not very, very visible.”
In modern times, Aaron’s is a publically traded company (NYSE: AAN) that provides electronics, computers, home furnishings, and appliances. Aaron’s has 1,165 Company-operated stores, 699 franchise stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Also included in their portfolio is Woodhaven Furniture Industries, responsible for most of the firm's furniture and bedding through more than a dozen plants in the US, and Progressive Leasing, a lease to own furniture financing company serving over 20,000+ retail locations in 46 states. Aaron’s also known to sponsor teams for NASCAR and the NHRA.
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