Baby equipment rental business thriving - East Valley Tribune: Business

Baby equipment rental business thriving

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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2008 7:21 pm | Updated: 9:27 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Chris and Mike Rounis wanted to leave the corporate world behind them and spend more time with their son, Matthew.

That was 10 years ago, when Matthew was a 1-year-old and he and his parents had just moved from Philadelphia to the Valley.

It was also the perfect time to start Anything for Baby Rental Service, a home-based company that today is among only a few of its kind headquartered in the Valley, and one of more than 40 similar but nationwide chains that are part of a growing industry.

"When Matthew was young, we took several vacations to the Valley and other places and each time we had to drag along all the baby stuff," said Chris Rounis, 46, president of the family-owned firm.

The Rounises both worked for Photo Corporation of America in Philadelphia. Chris was a regional director and Mike, 50, a vice president.

Mike Rounis was transferred to the Valley and, while they planned to relocate here, they also began to create their family-owned enterprise.

"The Valley seemed a perfect place for us to start a baby rental service business," Mike Rounis said.

"We wanted to fill a niche (financially) yet have flexibility," Chris Rounis added.

Using their corporate skills, the couple started by renting four small cribs, a few high chairs and a couple of strollers from their home in the Desert Ridge area of northeast Phoenix near the Scottsdale border.

Today, their inventory has increased to more than 100 cribs and high chairs and dozens of other baby-related items such as car seats, back packs, toys, swings, changing tablesand accessories. They also have diapers and wipes.

Ron Green and his wife, Gaile, of Paradise Valley have used the baby equipment rental service for many years.

"We have five grandchildren and if we had to store things like cribs and high chairs it would fill up our house," Ron Green said.

The Rounises expanded their storage for pickup and delivery service from their three-car garage to two other sites - a Suitcases & More in Scottsdale and Every Mother & Child in Mesa.

"The baby-rental service industry is expanding for several reasons," said Mike Rounis. "One is the restrictions at airports at luggage check-in, especially since 9/11."

Another is the lack of trunk space in today's vehicles, although larger vans can hold many more baby items, including cribs and high chairs, he said.

Nevertheless, a van still means driving with a large, extra load and a lot of unloading and loading.

He said the Valley is becoming a popular baby equipment rental center for other reasons: snowbirds who own smaller homes with little or no storage space and the growing population.

As more people move to the Valley, family visits also increase. Families can stay at hotels and motels where cribs or high chairs are usually provided, but staying overnight or for a week at a relative's home presents another space challenge to overcome.

"We're expecting a lot of rentals for the Super Bowl," Chris Rounis said.

The couple offers a package for $159.95 a week or $386 a month that includes a crib with a fitted sheet and bumper pads, a car seat with instructions and information about how to properly install the seat, a high chair and a stroller.

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