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APAR's WORKING WEEKEND: Handing It to Glovsky

9 Mar, 2001 By: Bruce Apar

Nothing is as gratifying to somebody who takes up space on the printed page (or screen) as connecting with a reader.

Since last week's column in this space appeared, exhorting those on both sides of the digital divide to start acting more like peers than boors, I've had a most engaging exchange of emails with one Barry Glovsky of Newton, Mass. (By the way, as long as this journalist has anything to say about it, you'll never see those dehumanizing postal codes for states, such as MA, used here; those monstrosities are meant strictly for addresses, not editorial use.)

Back to Barry. It's folks like him that keep dilettantes like me honest. After all, it's easy for someone covering a marketplace to spout off about it with an air of authority –- at least that's what we aim to do with varying degrees of success -- but it's still not the same as living it.

Barry reminded me of that simple truth with his straightforward sentiments in response to my most recent spouting off. I still believe, a week later, that it's in the interest of everyone in the home entertainment business to accept and work with the technologies in place (eg, digital video disk) and those moving into place (eg, digital delivery).

That goes equally for merchants as well as vendors. Shouldn't the whole -– finding synergies between the two –- be greater than the sum of the parts?

So far, so good. Enter Barry with a healthy dose of reality serum.

"Can you just boil it down for us," he asked. "Bottom line, how will a small indie store fit in the new plans? It's nice to talk about breaking down barriers and all but what do you really mean? We see what BB is doing and understand why. But nobody knows what's going to happen and what you talk about leaves the little guy out in the cold."

Somewhat surprisingly, Barry Glovsky is not a retailer himself, but his credentials are hard to carp at. His 20 years in the business began as a storefront operator, selling his three locations in 1988. He's a stalwart member of the Video Software Dealers Association for the past 16 years and a regular at its conventions.

For the past dozen years, his shingle says Video Department Set-ups (VDS), a wholesaler servicing over 200 retail accounts in the New England territory. (Barry must sure like snow, since this winter it seems his region collects it by the foot every other week.)

Also surprisingly, these are not at all hard times for VDS. In fact, Barry tells me, "we are growing because we provide a needed service for the small independent retailer.

"There are a lot of concerned people out there that still need to hear your words of advice. I don't have to tell you all the changes coming up in our industry during the next few months. We need to know how to get our customer base back if it's not too late, how do we lengthen the legs of the hits, how will we improve our stores? I want to help somehow."

Such entreaties may seem flattering on the surface, but they are genuinely humbling. Needless to say, there are no magic answers issuing from this corner. But encountering, even electronically, someone like Barry Glovsky is also energizing and encouraging. It's refreshing just to hear someone ask the right questions. It makes us want to help him and many others find the right answers. At Video Store Magazine, which also operates this Web site, we pledge to do our best.

Comments? Contact Bruce directly at:bapar@advanstar.com

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