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Clint Engel

Aaron's converts 29 stores to HomeSmart weekly rental model

ATLANTA — Aaron's said it has completed the conversion of 29 Crusader Rent To Own stores to its HomeSmart model, which features weekly lease payments for consumers in contrast to the monthly plan at Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership stores.

The Southeastern Crusader chain was acquired by Aaron's in July and with the conversion, gives Aaron's a total of 56 HomeSmart stores is South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico. The company also acquired the eight-store Buzz's Lease Purchase & Sales chain in Texas and Louisiana and will convert those stores to HomeSmart in the next few weeks.

"Early results are positive and growth prospects are excellent for HomeSmart," Aaron's Chief Operating Officer Ken Butler said in a release. "Opening multiple stores a month despite the tough economy demonstrates the need for flexible, affordable rental payment options on home products used in our everyday lives."

As with Aaron's, HomeSmart stores do not conduct credit checks, allowing consumers who are cash or credit constrained but have good references to rent home products, including furniture, electronics and appliances.

HomeSmart also is developing its executive team, the company said, noting that Aaron's Vice President of Marketing Mark Rudnick was named vice president of marketing for HomeSmart. It was unclear whether Rudnick would continue in the same post at Aaron's, and he did not return calls for comment.

Atlanta-based Aaron's has more than 1,900 company-owned and franchised stores in 48 stores, primarily operating under the Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership banner.

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