By Rachel Parker Dickerson
Hiegel Supply is about more than hammers and nails.
The landmark windmill not only points the way to a business that has served Conway since 1910, but also to a source for summer fun supplies and rental equipment. The thriving rental business has been part of Hiegel's offerings since 2003.
Owner Jerry Hiegel said, "It's a fun business, especially the party stuff. I used to say a lot of our customers would have a problem when they would come in - a leaky faucet, a leaky roof - and you help them fix it. Now it's a happy customer - 'We're having a birthday party!' they say, 'Put me down for next year.'"
For children's parties, four inflatables are available to rent, including two large bounce houses, one slide that can be used wet or dry, and a very large inflatable that has a bouncing area, climbing, and sliding, Hiegel said.
"Bounce houses go out all the time," he said.
Also available are a popcorn machine, snow cone machine, clown helium bottle (for inflating balloons), and a cotton candy machine.
The business also has a karaoke machine available to rent, something that appeals to all ages, and for the grown-up crowd, a frozen drink machine.
Hiegel said he does a lot of business with weddings, receptions, proms, picnics, and other big events, because he has tables and chairs for rent. One of the two wedding rental businesses in town refers clients to him for tables and chairs, he said.
"We don't have the wedding stuff, but we do a pretty good business of tables and chairs," he said. "We're not frou-frou," he added, noting he does not carry candelabras.
Some customers rent only a couple of tables for a yard sale, he said. For very large orders, he can sub-rent from someone else, he said.
Also for summertime, Hiegel has lawn and garden care equipment available to rent for customers who might need an item, such as a tiller, only once a year.
"You use a tiller once or twice to break your garden and then it sits," he said. Most people do not want to invest in a piece of equipment they will not use often, and most customers do not have enough storage space for rarely-used machinery, he noted.
The lawn and garden rentals include a fertilizer spreader, chain saws, hedge trimmers, string trimmers, etc.
"Some people don't own some of this equipment because (for example) you use a chainsaw once a year. It sits. Maybe it doesn't start the next time. It costs $50 to repair it. You may as well rent one and not have to store it all year," he said.
He also has a lawn aerator and rollers. The lawn aerator is another piece of equipment that most customers would not own, and some like it because "it strengthens the grass; it makes a professional-looking lawn by doing it yourself," Hiegel said.
The business also has for rent painting supplies, hand and power tools, and various other tools for getting jobs done around the home.