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Two Retailers That Weathered Change

By Stephanie Prange | Posted: September 30, 2008

In our latest issue, we recognize significant anniversaries for two important retailers in the video industry, Best Buy and Hastings Entertainment.

Best Buy was an important player in the rise of video sellthrough and DVD. Now on the 25th anniversary of its name change and expansion into video from its Sound of Music origin, Best Buy is helping to transition the industry to Blu-ray Disc through both hardware and software initiatives.

Hastings Entertainment, which has embraced an a la carte entertainment concept now being championed by the likes of Blockbuster Inc., has weathered the difficulties of the music and video industries for decades, outlasting such venerable institutions as Tower Records and Video.

Much has been made of new digital players, such as iTunes and Netflix, but Best Buy and Hastings deserve a round of applause for riding the many waves of change in a business that seems to reshuffle the deck every few years.

When I first joined what was then Video Store Magazine in the early 1990s, the industry was primarily a rental business of VHS videocassettes (I don’t quite date back to Betamax, but I do vaguely remember it). By the late 1990s, direct deals and complex copy-depth models dominated the rental business, flooding shelves with copies of the hits.

But a new format, DVD, appeared on the horizon to shake up the business once more. The little disc turned out to be a video collector’s dream, but it also offered a low price for rental dealers that made copy-depth a snap. It also opened up a whole new business for used discs. Suddenly, by-mail concepts such as Netflix took off, as did rental kiosks. Those concepts would not have been viable with clunky VHS cassettes.

And now we are transitioning to yet another format in Blu-ray Disc, which both Best Buy and Hastings are embracing, as they have embraced and adapted to the other changes in the business.

It’s not easy to keep abreast of the video wave, and retailers such as Best Buy (on its 25th) and Hastings (on its 40th) deserve kudos for their savvy business practices.

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