Independent retailer Brett Begley of ABC Hardware and Rental, a $5 million chain in the Buffalo area, bulks up the rental end of his business to increase foot traffic in his stores. His reasoning: rent something, and a person has to come to your store twice -- once to pick it up and once to drop it off. But what Begley rents is even more interesting than why: carnival-like novelties including those big air tents that kids bounce around in; cotton candy and iced cappuccino machines; and sumo wrestling suits. Begley puts some in his stores' parking lots. "I don't care what biz you're in, pop it in front of your store, and it's going to drive in traffic," he says. The new rental division has already generated $1 million in sales.

.