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Country's First Video Store Closes Shop

25 May, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

It's the end of an era.

Movies Unlimited, the first video store in the history of the business, opened its doors 27 years ago on Castor Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia and will shut them June 12, closing out the company's era as a brick-and-mortar retailer.

Movies Unlimited, which grew to five locations at one point, is returning to its roots as a mail-order business serving catalog, and now Internet, video buyers across the country and around the world.

That side of the business has seen double-digit growth for the last several years, said GM Ed Weiss, who's been with the company 26 years.

“The retailing end is very tough these days,” he said. “We're better off on the mail order side.”

The right offer came for the Movies Unlimited building and owner Jerry Frebowitz took it, Weiss said. There was really no thought of shifting to a new location, he added.

“It just wouldn't have the same flavor,” he said, recalling the days when customers would travel from New York and Virginia to the Philadelphia store when the market was new and video stores were few.

Movies Unlimited, as a mail-order business, boasts a strong reputation as the source for rare or hard-to-find videos, Weiss said. The company is selling off as much product in the store before it closes as possible and will shift any remaining inventory to the Movies Unlimited warehouse to be part of mail-order fulfillment.

The company is also trying to transition as many store employees as possible to the direct-ordering side of the business, Weiss said.

It was time to face the reality of a changing video business, said owner Jerry Frebowitiz in a statement.

“But we've carved a niche in the industry through our mail-order operation,” he said. “We will continue to publish our huge catalog each year, offer our expert service and improve our www.moviesunlimited.com Web site which is geared to movie buffs around the world.”

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