Hollywood shutdown hurts local video store | News, Sports, Jobs

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Family Video recently announced the closing of several locations nationwide, including the Dunkirk store, located at 1190 Central Ave.

In a phone interview with the OBSERVER, Adam Chase, district manager for New York, said movies will be available to rent until Sept. 13 and the store has a planned closing date of Oct. 25. The Jamestown location will remain open.

Chase explained, “We obviously depend on the movie industry, and more specifically, movies released in theaters. They have a box office contract and contracts to release to DVD, and with theaters closed for so long, it’s been a pretty extreme lack of newly-released movies.”

In fact, rentals of new releases make up a significant portion of Family Video’s business, and Chase said that the Dunkirk store was profitable before it closed in March. He addressed a common misconception that movie streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are putting video stores out of business; rather, most Family Video customers stop in weekly to rent new releases or hard-to-find movies that aren’t available on streaming platforms.

“Most of our customers want to watch current, new big blockbuster titles,” he explained. “Rather than purchase a $25 DVD that they might watch once or twice, they can rent it for a fraction of the price. There are always people who are a little more invested in choosing their entertainment, not just watching whatever is on Netflix.”

In response to the OBSERVER’s question about the impact of SUNY Fredonia’s shift to remote learning last semester, Chase said that it was a factor, but not the only one.

“There definitely is a good amount of our business that comes from college students, and their leaving didn’t help,” he said. “That and a lack of movies coming out on a weekly basis due to the slowdown.”

Even though the store did reopen in June, Chase said many customers are afraid to do any kind of non-essential retail shopping. He added, “We own the property, so we were still having to pay taxes and utilities for three months while we weren’t operational. Since reopening, we had a lack of new movies and uncertain forecasting when there’d be new movies released. The home office decided some locations would lose too much money by waiting.”

Right now, customers can still rent DVDs through Sept. 13. However, much of the Dunkirk location’s inventory is now available for purchase at approximately the same price of renting a movie. The store is also selling its fixtures, including shelving, gum ball machine, candy displays and more. For more information, call the store at 366-2981.

Chase, who oversees all locations in New York, remains optimistic. “There’s hope on the horizon,” he said. “There are well over 500 Family Videos still open and waiting for new releases to come out. We’re not happy to be closing some stores, but it comes down to the bottom line: business.”

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