Industry Veteran Edwards Passes4 Mar, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold
With the death of Bob Edwards, the home entertainment industry has lost one of its most colorful and respected figures, an independent video retailer and activist who truly loved, enjoyed and believed in the business — and who was heartbroken when it could no longer support him.
Edwards, 59, died Feb. 28 of colon cancer. He had been the owner of The Movie Man in Greensboro, N.C., since 1986. He served on the Video Software Dealers Association's (VSDA) national board from 1997 until 2001; before that, he served for eight years on the trade group's Carolinas Chapter, including two terms as president. Edwards also was a key organizer of the chapter's annual Sunsplash retailer retreat.
The Movie Man was the quintessential mom-and-pop video rental store. Edwards, a Raleigh, N.C., native, opened the store with his wife, Donna, after working as a delivery driver for Pepperidge Farms. In 1993, the couple opened a second store in nearby Mebane, and in late 1997 they spent $40,000 remodeling and expanding it into an 11,000-movie superstore.
But when the big chains began their assault on the indie-retail landscape, Edwards' fate was sealed. His store was pummeled when a Blockbuster Video outlet opened in Mebane a close distance from his store, just months after the expansion; he subsequently wrote an impassioned letter to Blockbuster chief (and fellow VSDA board member) John Antioco, accusing Blockbuster of aggressively working to put independent retailers out of business and pleading for mercy.
Ultimately, Edwards closed his Mebane store and a short time later exited the business completely, going back to his first career, opening a trucking firm, R.F. Edwards Transportation.
“Even after he left the business, he was still very actively involved with the chapter,” said Ingram Entertainment account executive Robert Hawthorne, a past treasurer of the Carolinas Chapter. “He was like a brother to me and to a lot of people. It's a big loss.”
Edwards is survived by his wife, Donna; three daughters; and five granddaughters. Memorial contributions may be made to Moses Cone Regional Cancer Center, 501 North Elam Avenue, Greensboro, N.C.