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Rent-A-Center - The history

Ernie Talley started the rent-to-own business in Wichita, Kansas during the made awareness to customers about his store named Mr.T's for Rental. He announced that they had rented a dryer and washer for a long enough during and had paid in full and now own it.

Thomas Devlin, a former employee of Mr. T’s rental, recognized the potential of renting name-brand products and partnered with W. Frank Barton and founded the Rent-A-Center brand in Wichita, Kansas in 1973.

Mark Speese joined Rent-A-Center in 1979. In 1986, Mr. Speese and a colleague left Rent-A-Center and started a competing business known as Vista Rent-To-Own. Ernest Talley then joined Vista Rent-To-Own as Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1989 and remained Chairman through Vista’s transition to Rent-A-Center. In 2001, Talley retired, and Speese was appointed as Rent-A-Center’s Chairman and CEO. Vista Rent-To-Own changed its name to Renters Choice, Inc.

Since it was found in 1986, Rent-A-Center (RAC) has grown from 16 stores to more than 3,050 in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada through acquisitions and new store openings. Its most significant addition was in 1998 when we bought 1,409 stores from Thorn Americas. In 2006, we acquired 782 stores from RentWay, our third largest competitor at that time.

In 1995, the company, then known as Renters Choice, went public on the NASDAQ stock market under the symbol "RCII." Our Plano, Texas-based company is a rent-to-own industry leader and employs more than 18,990 people.