Section: Features

Local branch of rental video chain persists in Netflix era

Local branch of rental video chain persists in Netflix era

In the era of online streaming, it might be surprising to see a video store still standing. On Coshocton Avenue in Mount Vernon, however, one can find just that.

Family Video in Mount Vernon, a spacious shop filled with DVDs and video games, is part of a rental video chain that has persisted through the digital age. Blockbuster, which had about 9,000 stores open in 2004, now only has about 50. Family Video maintains more than 745 stores to date and is the largest company of its kind in America. Laci Showalter, the manager of the Mount Vernon Family Video, is not surprised by the chain’s resilience.

“People still love to come to the movie store because they want to feel it, they want to touch it, they want to ask your opinion on it,” she said, gesturing to the DVDs around her and picking one up. “You could spend an hour scrolling through Netflix or Amazon Prime or one of those other services and still not find anything you want to watch.”

For Showalter and other local movie buffs, the video store is more than just a place to rent movies; it is a meeting ground. “People know each other about town and they’ll stand in here and talk about movies,” she said.

The store is stocked extensively with DVDs, video games and movie snacks. TVs spread out along the walls playing trailers for films and games. A window on one side connects the shop to the adjoining Marco’s Pizza, which is  partnered with Family Video. The typical clientele consists mostly of regulars who come in to rent movies at the start of the weekend.

She believes this consistency and familiarity is what makes the store appealing for both employees and customers.  “You get somebody who comes in and you know they’re a big fan of horror movies, [so] you’re like, ‘Oh hey, the new Jigsaw came out, you’ve got to go see it,’” she said. “I think it’s our customer service and our general knowledge [that] keeps people coming back.”

This sort of personal touch might be what kept Family Video afloat. For Showalter, this is of the utmost importance for her and the company as a whole. “That’s why we call it Family Video — we treat our customers as family.”

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