pinch a penny employee holding pool strainer behind a pool


We started in 1975 when our founder, Fred Thomas, opened our first location in Clearwater, Florida. Over the next 45+ years, we’ve grown to more than 255 stores nationwide. Dive in for the full journey from then to now.

Fred Thomas founder of Pinch A penny

Small Beginnings

In 1974, shortly after moving to Florida from Ohio, Fred Thomas was travelling throughout Florida as an independent sales representative. He was selling everything from barbecue grills and wooden shelves to ceramic figurines, even a line of wood glue. Along this journey, he met a producer of swimming pool chemicals that had no customers in Florida, and Fred agreed to become his sales agent in Florida.



Fred jumped on the new business opportunity, and after a few months, he had an order from a regional chain of drug stores. But as fate would have it, the order was cancelled after it was shipped, and Fred was responsible for accepting delivery and paying for it with money he did not have. Fred rented a small warehouse to receive the pool chemicals and supplies, ran classified ads to sell it directly to the public, and opened the warehouse on the weekends. He coined the name “Pinch A Penny” merely as a means of having a name that connoted a discount.

The “Pinch A Penny Warehouse Outlet” was an immediate success. Pool owners came from miles away and products were selling out fast. By 1975, Fred realized that he should make the warehouse a fulltime retail store, discontinued his pursuits as an independent sales-representative, and Pinch A Penny became his full-time enterprise. He continued to place more orders for pool chemicals and supplies; and took the time to learn proper pool care and repairs.

pinch a penny store front


By 1976, Fred was ready to grow and open more stores to meet the demand from pool owners from neighboring cities. Thus, began a franchising concept that changed the landscape of the swimming pool industry. Fred knew that the only way to provide exceptional customer service at every location, and to be able to finance growth, he needed other families that could share in the work and in the profits. By the end of 1976, nine families joined him with opening their own Pinch A Penny store. Fred offered training, helped secure inventory, helped find locations, helped them open their stores, and provided the advertising. The new franchises ran their businesses and the success formula from the very first store multiplied.



For the next 15 years, Fred and his franchise family grew to roughly 90 locations throughout Florida, using the same basic principles he used in 1976. By 1990, his son John, who grew up working by his father’s side, working in stores from the age of 8, was now back from college. John reintegrated into the business on a full-time basis helping to continue his father’s legacy.

Fred and John founders
Employee helping customer select product


By 1994, John became President, and in 1998, his father made him the Chief Executive Officer. From 1990 through today, John has continued to lead the organization’s growth along with a team of executives that is unmatched. And while the systems used for training, advertising, product procurement, and store development have become more significant and refined, the roots and foundation of what was started in 1975 remain at the core of our existence. Work ethic, integrity, having a servant’s heart, and providing value to pool owners is what leads to success and stability for Pinch A Penny franchise-partners and to their employee/associates.

The “Family-Business” model is alive and well, and even after 45+ years, Pinch A Penny grows and succeeds by helping families invest in themselves, and as a result, our family grows!

“There is a lot of customer loyalty with the Pinch A Penny franchise if the customer service is there. What separates us from everybody else is our customer service, our knowledge of product, and how we treat our customer. We carry jugs out, we have the trays that you can set the jugs in. We give those to our customers for free as a courtesy for them. We try to do everything that we can to make their experience that much better and so that they know that they can come to us for a friendly face, and for knowledge, and for great prices.”

If you’re looking to invest in a time-tested business model with unparalleled support from industry experts, Pinch A Penny is the right choice for you.


Customer service and expertise have always been the keys to our success, starting with how our executive team supports Franchise Owners as they join the Pinch A Penny family.

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