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Indies Tout ‘Video Store Day’

17 Aug, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Inaugural event Oct. 15 plans to showcase strength and vitality of the independent video store

Independent rentailers across the country and in Canada are banding together to promote a “Video Store Day” Oct. 15 designed to show consumers that alternatives to rental kiosks and Netflix still exist.

The promotion, which includes ads in various distributor newsletters to consumers as well in-store signage, offers a free movie rental to visitors at participating video stores.

The idea for a day of national recognition is based on a similar effort independent music stores launched a few years ago, according to Stacey Mooney, owner of Moondog Matinee in Flora, Ind.

Mooney said online chatter among indie stores throughout the years indicated a groundswell of support for such a proclamation, but little action.

“I basically took the reigns and just ran with it,” she said, adding that the online forum was moved to Facebook and YouTube. “Nobody was doing anything about it so I just started sending out letters.”

Other stores involved in getting the word out include Video Quest in Joliet, Ill.; The Video Strip in Chicago; Video-n-Game Gallery in Elkhorn, Wis.; Double Features in Vineland, N.J.; King Tut Video in Kentucky; Eyesore Cinema in Ontario, Canada; and Orbit DVD/TV Eye Video Emporium in Ashville, N.C., among others.

Mooney sent letters to distributors Ingram, VPD, Rentrak and the Entertainment Merchants Association, in addition to some studios, looking for support.

“Actually, it’s done really well,” she said of the correspondence. “It’s a day to remind customers that their local brick-and-mortar independent video stores are here to serve them, from finding catalog titles to repairing discs.

“It’s not a day to bash Netflix. It’s not a day to bash Redbox, Blockbuster or even Family Video. It’s a day to celebrate the art of movies,” Mooney added.

Ted Engen, founder of the Video Buyers Group, a consortium of more than 1,500 independent video stores, said he jumped at the chance to participate.

“I talked to a few guys and next thing I know this thing is spreading just like wildfire,” Engen said, adding that he doesn’t expect a huge consumer response for the first year. He expects the day to grow in meaning going forward.

Shane Benson Aungst, proprietor of Third Man Video in Seattle, isn’t so sure.

Aungst said he was approached initially about getting the word out but has avoided doing so because he thinks it won’t have much impact on consumers approach to renting movies.

And what would have an impact on consumers?

“Maybe blowing up Netflix,” Aungst joked. “Or putting the lid back on digital distribution and getting rid of the Internet.”

Aungst said that Amazon, which is based in Seattle, has saved the day in recent years by facilitating sales of used discs acquired through the store.

“We sell a lot of stuff on Amazon,” Aungst said, adding the store does about $10,000 monthly in used discs sold online. “If it wasn’t for them we would be out of business. Our rental business is dead.”

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