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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Video Retailers May Wonder What They Have to Give Thanks For on Thanksgiving

22 Nov, 2000 By: Thomas K. Arnold

As another Thanksgiving Day rolls around, video specialty retailers may wonder what, exactly, they have to give thanks for.

With few exceptions, their rental business is down from what it was last year, which, in turn, was down from what it was the year before.

Thousands of their brethren have gone out of business, and there's always the chance they could be next--particularly if a Blockbuster moves into their neighborhood, with its revenue-sharing-fueled wall of hits, guaranteed availability of the hits and extended rental periods.

It's quite likely that their standard of living has gone down from what it was in the past, back in the golden days when consumers would rent whatever new videos they happened to find in their neighborhood video store and customer dissatisfaction was a sound business strategy retailers used to build incremental profits and drive traffic into rather than out of their stores.

The Internet? It's hard for retailers to give thanks to that. E-commerce is for the big guys, and even the big guys aren't exactly raking in the big bucks. Then there's the matter of leisure time. The World Wide Web is just one more diversion to occupy the public's time, time that once was spent watching rented videos.

And DVD, well, that's a mixed bag. Rental DVD isn't really big enough yet to make up for the downturn in rental revenue, and selling DVD is an uphill battle, given the rampant discounting of the dedicated e-tailers and big chains like Best Buy.

So what, exactly, do video retailers have to be thankful for? Consider this:
*The fact that they own their own businesses, a feat even the top executives of the Hollywood studios can't boast of.
*The fact that they've had a pretty good run these last two decades, making more money than many of their peers.
*The fact that they're a part of the glamorous Hollywood movie scene, several stretches removed but still a vital link in the entertainment pipeline.
*And, perhaps most of all, the fact that they're experienced retailers with the savvy and know-how to be flexible, to change with the times, to realize when it's time to shore up on DVD purchases and get rid of dusty videocassettes; to realize when it's time to move to another location; to realize when it's time to branch out and diversify so that their businesses don't live or die by the rental of VHS videocassettes; and, yes, to realize when it's time to throw in the towel and close up shop in the face of insurmountable competition.

Retailers who are still in business have been on wild ride, full of unexpected twists and turns. And each stumble and fall has made them stronger, tougher, better prepared to meet the next challenge--or recognize the next opportunity.

That's certainly something to be thankful for--the fact that they're still around, because so many others aren't.

Happy Turkey Day, on behalf of the Video Store Magazine and Hive4Media staff!

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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