STORES Magazine - May/June 2017 - 35
Sink or Swim
Pool, patio and spa retailer succeeds through a focus on "Retail 101"
by WILLIAM F. KENDY
inch-A-Penny Pool Patio & Spa was
founded because of an unexpected and
unfortunate business reversal.
In 1974, Fred Thomas, an independent
sales representative out of Clearwater,
Fla., took on a line of pool chemicals to
represent. He received a sizeable order
from a retail chain and, believing he had
a firm commitment, went ahead and
placed the order. Much to his chagrin, the
chain cancelled and Thomas was stuck
with a bunch of inventory. Since he didn't
have the money to pay for it, he needed to
move it or face possible bankruptcy.
Thomas decided to take a risk and sell
it to consumers on his own. He rented a
small warehouse in a nearby industrial
park and opened his doors to the public
on weekends. Pinch-A-Penny was born.
According to a 1975 Tampa Tribune
interview, Thomas's first cash register
was a two-quart saucepan. Three
months later, he "graduated" to a sixquart Dutch oven and was in business
"One thing led to another and by 1975
the little Clearwater part-time business
blossomed into a full-time pool supply
store, and as it grew he got the itch to
expand and open more stores," says John
Thomas, Fred's son who took over as
president of PAP in 1992.
"In 1976 he didn't have a lot of capital
to work with, so he turned to franchising
as a means to opening additional stores
and growing the business."
THE RIGHT FIT
PAP has more than 230 stores in
Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana
and Texas, including three corporateowned locations in Florida used for
testing, research and "to keep a finger on
the pulse of the market," Thomas says.
In addition to offering pool and spa
products, most franchises offer backyard
services to maintain pools and spas
for those customers who don't want to
STORES May/June 2017 35