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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Retailers Respond to the Impact of Universal's Shutout on 'Unanointed' Distributors

19 Apr, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Yesterday morning, I printed some responses to a VSDA discussion board posting that asked retailers who bought product from the three "anointed" Universal distributors if there were any changes now that the trio had achieved "favored nation" status with one of the six major studios.

I then asked retailers who bought product from other wholesalers how their distributors were faring in the face of the Universal shutout.

Here, as promised, are some edited responses (this time, with names and store affiliations, since these retailers responded to my solicitation):

"I receive my Universal products from the distributor I CHOOSE!!!! My Universal products are on time, at no extra cost, and there are no hassles.

"Finally, when I call the distributor of my choice I get a human being on the other end EVERY single time!!!What Universal (and Warner) did was just a big mistake. They need to re-think their actions and do what's best."--Donna Doremus, Hopewell Video

"When Universal decided they were going to tell me who I could and who I could not buy from, I knew in my mind that was never going to happen. Who do they think they are? At that point I called Steve Scavelli at Flash and told him I had had enough. He assured me that it would not be a problem and that he would get me the product and get it on time. I put my faith in him and his company and he has not let me down..."--Frank J. Serago, Easy Video

"I am relieved that I am still able to buy Universal's product through Flash. My prices are the same, there have been no rising wholesale or shipping costs. Flash has continued to deliver on time. I will continue to buy as much as I can from Flash and will support them in anyway I can."--Gary Dennis, Movie Place

"I find this whole process absurd. For years I bought what I wanted, from who I wanted. I now feel like I am in the old Soviet Union, where I am TOLD who to buy from, and how much to buy!!! What happened to free enterprise?...

"When I bought my product from my main distributor, I could make a much more informed decision about what movies to buy, and how many. They had all the information in one place, and in one meeting I was done!! Now, I get several phone calls and faxes a week from companies offering product. It has become a major chore to keep track of who is offering what deal and it has become impossible to evaluate all the movies I should be offering to my customers. Everyone is offering different deals and trying to get your business, with no interest in developing a long term relationship.

"The studios have done real harm to themselves by cutting out loyal distributors who did a great job of representing them to all retailers. When will this madness end???"--David Cohn, Channel Video

"Since the Universal 'limited' deal, we have noticed problems [at our regular distributor] with only their titles.

"While change can sometimes be good, we feel the industry is not paying attention to the smaller retailers and distributors. There have been times when we have to order a certain VHS or DVD for a customer and must use Ingram or VPD. Once, the order never arrived and another time it took over two weeks to come after they said that it was in stock...."--Andrew P., We Deliver Videos

Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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