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Getting to know your neighbor: House of Television rents to own

MERCHANDISE FOR RENT — House of Television has a variety of items for customers to rent-to-own, including washers and dryers, televisions, furniture, appliances and more.
NEW DIGS — House of Television is now located in the Tops Markets Plaza, next to Subway.
HAPPY TO HELP — House of Television employees are pictured, from left: Account Manager Derrek Stelley, Assistant Store Manager Chris Pire and Store Manager Dan Tait. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
[photo2]SPRINGVILLE — House of Television Rentals, whose Springville location just moved to 206 Cascade Drive, in the Tops Plaza, is a locally-owned rent-to-own business, whose 13 locations have served Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania for more than 30 years.

“We offer all brand-name products with no interest and savings, over buying with cash or on a credit card,” said Dan Tait, general manager of the Springville location. “Sure, you could go down to Lowe’s or Wal-Mart and maybe get something cheaper, but it’s not going to be the same quality.”

House of Television offers living room, bedroom and dining room furniture, electronics and appliances from a selection of brand names, including Ashley®, Catnapper©, Acer©, Frigidaire®, Samsung©, Sony® and others.

“We like to say it’s like buying on layaway, but you get to take it home and start using it, that same day,” Tait explained.

The company has its own service department, which includes what Tait called “the best computer technician in Western New York,” as well as service representatives who repair and upholster furniture, televisions and other items.

“We stand by our products, 100 percent,” he noted. “We offer free service. If we can’t fix it, we’ll give you a loaner, until we can.”

The rent-to-own transaction model came about in the 1960s, in response to consumer demand for acquiring the use of household products without incurring debt or jeopardizing the family’s credit.

[photo3]Rentals are normally established for payment periods of daily, weekly, biweekly, semimonthly or monthly increments. According to Tait, the length of the payment period agreement is determined by the product cost. Once the customer finishes paying off the price of the item, the store confers ownership of that item onto that consumer.

At House of Television, if, at any time, a customer decides he or she no longer wants to keep paying for the item, the store will take it back, no questions asked and no additional fees incurred. Under the business’s current ownership, a customer can trade in current rented merchandise for new merchandise, as long as the prices match up.

“If you’re renting a TV and you decide you no longer want a TV, but you need a washer, you can come in, give us the TV and start paying on the washer, without losing money,” he said. “It used to be, you’d bring in a TV and have to get another TV. Now, as long as the prices match, you can pick right up where you left off, with another item.”

[photo2]Tait said that House of Television is one of the only independent, non-corporation rent-to-own facilities around, a family-run business that cares about its customers.

“We keep it reasonable for people with competitive prices,” he said. “There’s no long-term obligation. If you go to Ashley Furniture and buy a living room set and you decide you don’t like it, you’re [out of luck]. With us, if you decide you don’t like it after a week, you can bring it back and you’re out 20 bucks, not 2,000.”

House of Television will offer a sale, starting on Monday, June 3, in which customers can earn up to 50 percent off the first payment, for up to a month. Tait said the store runs periodic sales, to keep prices low for customers.

In addition, the business features a benefit club, which covers members against burglary, fire and smoke damage, windstorms, lightning, flood and hail damage.

“If someone breaks into your house and steals a product, we’ll replace it and your rental agreement will pick right up, where you left off,” Tait said, of club members’ benefits. “If your house catches on fire and you lose your merchandise, you get another one. If you lose your job and can’t pay for a while, as long as you qualify for unemployment, the insurance will help you out so you don’t lose your item.”

The benefit club also includes accidental death and dismemberment coverage, retail pharmacy savings, vision and eyewear, chiropractic care, lab and diagnostic tests, a fitness discount, savings on roadside assistance, car service discounts, rental car savings, grocery savings and discounted hotel lodging.

“It’s one, flat rate and really has a lot of options,” Tait explained, about the coverage. “We like to help our customers out.”

The Springville location draws customers from North Collins, Cattaraugus, Franklinville, East Aurora and everywhere in between.

“We’ll deliver up to half an hour away,” Tait said. “Some of those places are more than half an hour, if you stay on the main roads, but you can cut it down, by taking side streets.”

Customers come from all walks of life, from truck drivers to people who are living on public assistance, according to Tait.

“The majority of our customers are lower middle class to middle class,” he said, noting that this statistic echoed the demographic in the surrounding area.

“Real estate agents will sometimes come in and rent furniture, to stage a house they’re trying to sell. We get all sorts of people in here.”

The new location offers House of Television better visibility and more foot traffic, according to the manager. “It’s a smaller location, but it’s a nicer store,” Tait said.

The business moved from the Springville Village Shopping Center Plaza in mid-May.

House of Television is open Mondays – Fridays, 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. The Springville store may be reached at 592-9850 or at www.houseoftelevision.com.


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