Commonwealth Journal

News Live

June 21, 2014

Some local video stores have survived the Netflix era

Somerset —

Blockbuster north’s phone has been answered the same way since it opened in the ‘90s. But callers are greeted differently now.
“Jasper Entertainment, how can I help you?”
The franchise store changed its name in January after receiving an ultimatum from a terminal Blockbuster LLC: Rebrand or become a licensee.
But only over the phone is it easy to tell which choice they made.
Sitting across U.S. 27 from Big Lots, Jasper Entertainment still adorns the sun-damaged Blockbuster awnings and is filled with that company’s branding. Most of its thousands of rentals still go out wearing Blockbuster inserts. Though there are plans to change all of that, it is now financially difficult.
The manager, Scott Surber, has worked there since 2000, witnessing the boom and decline of one of the world’s largest rental chains. At one point, he worked at Blockbuster north with nine others. But, at Jasper Entertainment, he has only three co-workers and none of them work at the same time.
“It’s just not like it used to be,” Surber said.
While Netflix grew and Blockbuster dwindled, many of Pulaski County’s smaller video rental stores rented their last movies. Mill Spring’s Video, Video Video and Video Land are no longer in business. Only Video Palace in downtown and Take Two Video in Eubank remain.
Meanwhile at least nine Redbox rental kiosks have popped up across the county.
“Everything (has taken) a bite,” Surber said. “We went from thriving to sustaining due to technology.”
Just as Blockbuster dropped VHS tapes in favor of other mediums — DVDs and Blu-ray Discs — many customers have dropped rental stores, favoring digital distribution.
While browsing for a specific movie at Jasper Entertainment Rita Popp said she does “not come here unless I can’t find what I want at Redbox.”

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