Tool — Wherefore art thou?


POSTED: Friday, April 03, 2009

Water had been seeping through the brick retaining wall in my basement, causing blistering in the paint and other havoc to the room. Several contractors' estimates later, instead of hiring a pro to sand the paint off and waterproof the wall, I tried to cut costs by accepting the help of a well-intentioned brawny acquaintance who was in that line of work.





        Other sayings from the Hawaiian Rent-All unofficial hall of fame:

» “;Sewer snakes for that stuffed up head”;


» “;Invite our chairs to your graduation party”;


» “;Kick the hell out of our carpet stretcher”;


» “;Leap year specials: Elopement ladders”;


» “;Our house jacks are screwed up”; (referring to the motion used on a tool designed to raise houses)


» “;Help stamp out dirty carpets. Rent our shampoo”;


» “;Our generators are super. So watt”;


Source: RER Magazine, November 1974




The job was planned for early Saturday. The day came, and there I stood, hands on hips, 60 minutes into our scheduled task with two voice mails placed to the brawny acquaintance, who was nowhere in sight. Just me and a 12-by-9-foot concrete monster staring me down, daring me to strip it.

It was at this crucial moment, between not enjoying being a girl and not wanting to throw in the towel, risking another week in water damage, that I remembered the marquee of the neighborhood shop that “;rents all.”;

This knight in shining armor, Hawaiian Rent-All at the corner of Beretania and McCully streets, happened to be open that sunny Saturday morning, as it is seven days a week. The gent behind the desk handed over a hefty sander, gave me full instruction, wouldn't let me exit until he was quite certain I could operate it confidently, and then sent me on my way.

Store manager Raynard Hasegawa has been behind the counter of Hawaiian Rent-All for 10 years, four of them for original owners Gordon Loui and the late Norman Loui. The brothers started the business as United Rent-All in Kakaako and changed the name to Hawaiian Rent-All after moving to the Moiliili location in the late '60s.

“;We make sure people who work here know the equipment well so they can pass that knowledge on to the customer,”; Hasegawa said. “;That way, customers who come here for one thing, when they need something else, they'll come back.”;

Paul Gibfried took the company over six years ago, after finding that he wasn't quite ready for a life of leisure after retiring from his job managing an industrial castings company in Missouri. He researched businesses on the Internet and found Hawaiian Rent-All was for sale.

“;It was a good opportunity. People will always be in the market to rent something they'd rather not buy,”; he said. He'd never been to Hawaii, and thought, Why not?

Gibfried's well aware of the history and tradition of the store's landmark marquee. When he first took over, he conducted an informal survey asking patrons what brought them to his store. Advertising? Word of mouth? Most said they remembered the sayings on the sign.

“;The Louis did a nice job with that,”; he said. “;We try to keep it up and make it relevant to the business.”;

Hasegawa cited a few slogans from a 1974 article in Rental Equipment Register, a trade magazine, about the store:

“;Be Impressive. Rent a drill.”;

“;Power to the People. Generators for rent.”;

“;Men only. Stripper for rent”; (referring to carpet and tile strippers).

Some slogans are recycled, and “;every once in a while we'll get an idea from a customer,”; but for the most part, Gibfried and crew brainstorm for new ones.

Back to the grinding:

I was a solo sander for an hour or so when my AWOL brawny (and somewhat hung over) acquaintance finally appeared—sans tools. Gladly, I handed mine over, then hopped into the car and headed back to the shop to rent another. Two grinders are better than one.

The moral of the story: Make sure you know where your local tool rental shop is; you never know when it'll come in handy.