Family Video, Last Surviving Video Store Chain, Will Close Its Remaining Stores
Theaters aren’t the only part of the movie business that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. When cinephiles stay home to watch things on streaming, they also stay away from video stores, which means 2020 was a particularly painful year for an industry that was already struggling. This week, the final surviving video store chain — Family Video, which still operates more than 200 outlets around the country — announced it was permanently closing all of its remaining locations. A sign at the Rochester Minnesota location confirmed the news.
In a press release posted to the company’s Instagram, they blamed the decision squarely on the pandemic. “The impact of Covid-19, not only in foot traffic but also in the lack of movie releases, pushed us to the end of an era,” wrote Keith Hoogland, CEO of Highland Ventures, Family Video’s parent company.
At its heyday, according to Hoogland, Family Video boasted more than “800 locations with up to 7,000 square feet of video rental and retail.” The company, which was started in the last 1970s and endured through the eras of video, DVD, and Blu-ray, outlasted its larger competitors like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video by many years, largely by focusing its operations in smaller towns and rural areas.
The chain recently appeared as a location in Stranger Things, bringing it some renewed attention and helping it sell merchandise with the company’s logo. (The Family Video website currently advertises a wide variety of T-shirts along with a bunch of CBD products; you have to scroll past them to find the movies available for rent or sale.) Of course, Stranger Things is a Netflix production, making the show part of the very business that helped to bring down Family Video and the rest of its ilk.
A few isolated stragglers remain, but the closure of Family Video officially signals the final end of the video store as a business in this country. If you grew up going to (and loving) the video store, prepare for a lifetime of trying to explain what the experience was like to young people who have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. (It will be a lot like how you used to scratch your heads at adults when they described 8-track tapes. Such is the way of the world. In a few generations, people will probably be befuddled that we used to stream movies on televisions instead of just downloading them straight into our eyeballs.)
Here is Family Video’s full announcement of the company’s closure. If you want to find and visit a Family Video before they close forever, you can try their store locator.
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