Retail Observer

October 2021

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 40 of 67

R TO World 2021 – hosted by APRO and TRIB Group – was everything the rent-to-own industry has been eagerly anticipating for the past two years of the pandemic: a reconnection of rental dealers, managers and exhibitors from around the country, sharing information, ideas, inspiration, deals, and laughs – face-to-face, together again in Tampa, Florida. The fourth annual National Convention & Tradeshow, which was held virtually last year as the first surge of COVID-19 swept across the nation, was in full Floridian swing even before its official kickoff on Monday, August 23, as the APRO and TRIB staffs worked furiously all day Sunday to perfect every detail of the event. Sunday evening, the Florida Rental Dealers Association hosted a welcoming RTO World Pre-Party sponsored by TRIB at the American Social Bar & Kitchen. The official convention launched bright and early Monday morning, with the State Association Presidents Meetup, a TRIB Group membership meeting and four Peer Group Meetups – Buyers, Owners/Dealers, Regional/District Managers and Store Managers. Everyone came together at the APRO Awards Luncheon and Business Meeting, sponsored by LG Electronics Corp., USA. The first individual award of the event, the RTO Tiger Award, was specially introduced by John Cleek Jr. of Cleek's Home Furnishings/Rentals & Sales. Cleek Jr. offered his peers a health update on his father, Tiger John Cleek, a former APRO President, an RTO icon, and the award's namesake. Tiger revealed earlier this summer that he is living with ALS, a degenerative, incurable, lethal neuromuscular disease. Although Tiger wasn't able to travel to RTO World, he spoke to his rent-to-own colleagues via video, thanking them for their work for the industry, their friendship over the years, and their generous contributions to the recent Columbia, Missouri, Walk to Defeat ALS. "Team Tiger" has raised almost $66,000 toward ALS research, much of it from RTO professionals. Tiger's brief but emotional video prompted a long and loud standing ovation from the RTO World crowd in appreciation for a true rent-to-own legend. Following the luncheon, participants selected from among a dozen educational sessions to attend. From APRO General Counsel Ed Winn III's ever-popular Legal & Legislative Update to People Before Profits: Creating a Culture for Growth, from Social Media Fundamentals: How to Grow Your Business to Exit Strategies for RTO, rent-to-own professionals soaked up information, inspiration and invaluable insights all afternoon. Day One finished strong with a Welcome Reception and Hot Show sponsored by Whirlpool Corp., which spurred more than $12 million in sales. Later in the evening, rent-to-own up-and-comers rubbed elbows and bumped fists at the Emerging Professionals Networking Social, sponsored by Nationwide RentDirect. Tuesday morning brought early meetings of both the Arkansas and Kentucky Rental Dealers Associations, even before the RTO Education General Session – a Continental Breakfast sponsored by GE Appliances, a Haier Company – began. The keynote speaker, former NFL linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, spoke to the RTO audience about TEAMwork, and exactly how "Together, Everyone Achieves More." Mike Tissot of Countryside Rentals Inc., dba Rent-2-Own, followed up with a presentation specifically aimed at regional and store managers, while APRO President Chris Kale Sr., TRIB Group President Chris Kale Jr., APRO Executive Director Jill McClure, and TRIB Group Executive Director Dennis Shields officially opened the Tradeshow with a ribbon-cutting. With more than 400 rental dealers and almost 260 vendors in attendance, the RTO World exhibit hall was abuzz with activity the rest of the day and well into Wednesday, with initial show purchase numbers totaling over $28 million. The APRO Board of Directors also met Tuesday afternoon to elect its new Executive Committee: President David P. David of Full-O-Pep Appliances Inc., dba American Rental; 1st Vice President Michael Bennett of Buddy's Home Furnishings; 2nd Vice President Shirin Kanji of Impact RTO Holdings, dba Rent-A- Center; Treasurer Terah Vail Munstermann of Best Tire Concepts LLC, dba RNR Tire Express; and Secretary Trent Agin of SKC Enterprises Inc., dba Rent One. Tuesday evening's Tampa Experience Party, sponsored by Ashley Furniture Industries at Splitsville Southern & Social, had fun and games to spare as competitive RTO-ers enjoyed the venue's 10-pin bowling, billiards, darts, shuffleboard, ping-pong and foosball, along with some good grub and libations. The final morning of RTO World 2021 began with an early meeting of the APRO Vendor Advisory Committee, followed by last-minute networking at the Continental Breakfasts and some concluding procurement as the Tradeshow wrapped up. "This year's RTO World was a special one," said McClure. "Seeing the industry members come together again following such a challenging time was wonderful. Pulling off a safe, in-person convention during the pandemic had its challenges. Overall, we were happy with the results, and everyone seemed delighted to be there. We're already looking forward to RTO World 2022 in the marvelous Midwest – August 10-12 in Indianapolis, Indiana! " OCTOBER 2021 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 41 Kristen Card, resident writer for APRO RO

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