Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Video Honchos Talk Local Woman Out of Closing Shop

Industry Association Shows "Videos Tonite" It's Possible

At the end of the day, the numbers just weren't adding up.

Deborah Crockett, a Clifton business woman who has operated
Videos Tonite here for the past decade, couldn't make ends
meet due to bad checks, clients walking away with rented
goods, increases in taxes and expenses.

She isn't alone. Nationwide, video rental store owners are
bolting, cutting their losses and running.

It's because competition is squeezing mom and pop operations
out. Such outfits as Blockbuster, Red Box and NetFlix have
made renting a video so inexpensive that the originators of
the business, the more traditional stores, just can't

Deborah got on the phone. She made the industrial honchos
share her pain. She told them what the end result would be.

It all adds up. When a hundred of the "bricks and mortar"
people with similar businesses make the same decision -
well, do the math.

It gets expensive, no matter what level of the pyramid you
may occupy.

That's when the distributors, people like Ingram
Distributing out of Lavergne, Tennessee, began to cast
around for a way to keep people like Deborah in business.

Using their relationship with Ted Engen of the Minneapolis
trade association Video Buyers Group, they were able to
negotatiate a brand new deal that should relieve some of the
competitive pressure.

It's a new deal and it involves a new 28-day marketing
window for the kind of video stores that offer personal
service and the home town touch to the needs of customers
who are waiting for the release of that one special movie or
video game that will make their season complete.

Let's say you want to be first to see a certain release when
it's available on DVD.

No problem. You call your home town video store and say so.
They have your phone number on file and you will be the
first to know when the disc becomes available. Industry
giants can't do that. You can't rely upon a kiosk operator
or an internet-based distributor to take that level of
interest in the invidual customer.

It's called "Available Here 1st."

"There's still people who want to be able to come in and
rent a movie and have it for three days...everybody gets a
chance to see it...By the time you've paid $5 for it on your
cable station, you can rent it from me and keep it for the

"I will also deliver movies when people are sick or have any
kind of health crisis...I know what they like...No, grandma,
you really don't want little Joey to be watching that unless
you want to explain certain parts of the body.

"That's where a Red Box or a machine doesn't know...We have
to go by certain standards and rules."

Here's how the deal works between the studios, the
distributors and the bricks and mortar stores.

The window between theater exhibitions and the video stores
had shrunk considerably. Add to that the pressures of the
satellite, cable internet distribution and kiosk rental
companies, and what you have is no gap whatsover.

After all, who built the business? Who created the demand
in the first place?

You got it. It was people like Deborah Crockett who rented
a store front, invested in inventory and logistic tracking
software, hired the help and insured them, paid the sales
taxes and put up with the day to day headaches of a small

The result is that two decades later, everyone in the
country has the same privilege that once only people like
Howard Hughes or President Nixon enjoyed. A home exhibition
of a first run movie after dinner.

It's almost like expanding the Beverly Hills zip code to an
entire 50 states, when you stop and think about it.

Mr. Engen and his wife Linda, who publish the trade organ
"Vid News," helped negotiate an agreement between
distributors and rental stores that allows them to have 28
days of breathing room between the time a video becomes
available to them and it is released to Redbox and Netflix.

Warner was the first studio to sign.

Fox and Universal followed suit in regards to rental kiosks.

Netflix presents a strong possiblity to sign a 30-day window
agreement between the street release date and the date the
property becomes available to that organization.

The end result: Debra Crocket is going to continue to rent
videos at her Avenue D location in Clifton.

All she needed was a little breathing room.

Now, she's got it.

How long a trial period will she give this?

"Probably through the summer. Through the whole summer movie list."


  1. Very good article Jim, you write from the heart.

  2. your writing is awesome, people need to get back to comunicating with each other. your local businesses is the gathering place for people to talk to purchase to comment to each other about what they have seen or purchase. please people talk to each other visit, lets have a block party at VIDEOS TONITE,i am here for you and i still want to open a coffe bar next door that you can relax and enjoy yourself and not worry about what is on display. and if you are on scoots your money is green also. Everyone enjoy your day, and watch a good movie come by and let's talk about it.