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Goods to Let in Review

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Buoyed by a pending merger that will make it the country's third largest operator of rent-to-own stores, RTO in Mesquite, Texas is screening four Dallas-area agencies for a $15 million ad account.
Andre Job, RTO's vice president of marketing, said he has begun hearing capabilities presentations from The Richards Group, PGC Advertising and Joiner Rowland Serio, all in Dallas, and BJK&E Specialized Advertising in Irving, Texas. Job expects to select a winner early next month.
Earlier this month, RTO revealed plans to merge with Alrenco, another rent-to-own firm based in Albany, Ind. The merger, likely to be finalized by year's end, will give RTO a combined 416 stores, primarily in the Midwest and South. RTO will then rank behind industry leaders Rent-A-Center and Renters Choice.
RTO and Alrenco have worked with various shops in the past, but do not have existing agency of record relationships, Job said.
The stores rent furniture, consumer electronics and appliances to individuals who are unwilling or unable to purchase the goods outright or with traditional credit. While rental fees are often low, the industry has been criticized for its high interest rates, which can have consumers paying two to three times an item's actual value by the time they have rented long enough to own it.
Job said RTO is in the process of rebranding its 250 stores under the Home Choice banner. After the merger, it will convert Alrenco's units to Home Choice as well.
"Our objective is to maintain a great deal of integrity in the way we develop and market Home Choice. We hope to elevate the [rent-to-own category] with the way we talk to and service consumers."
RTO counts among its investors H. Wayne Huizenga, chairman of Republic Industries, which owns the Alamo Rent A Car, Value Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental operations, along with AutoNation USA.