Mom-and-pop video stores not dead yet

TRD New York /
Jul.July 12, 2011 12:30 PM

Rumors of the death of the brick-and-mortar video store have been greatly — well, at least somewhat — exaggerated. According to the Wall Street Journal, even as the bankrupt Blockbuster is shuttering stores right and left, some of New York City’s remaining mom-and-pop video rental stores are, surprisingly, not yet on their last legs — and a select few are still even turning a profit. The story of the video store’s slow demise appears not unlike that of the brick-and-mortar bookstore: it’s only the most neighborly and specialized retailers that have managed to make ends meet in spite of online competitors like Netflix, Hulu and On-Demand. As of 2009, there were 159 video stores still open in New York City, down from 325 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census. Among the survivors are Alan’s Alley in Chelsea, which has found a niche in corporate clients like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report,” which use footage from the movies in their segments. The owner of Alan’s Alley also said he knows the names of roughly half his customers. In Hell’s Kitchen, Video Café sells frozen yogurt, popcorn, candy and branded mugs in order to bring in extra revenue, and caters to actors in the neighborhood seeking documentaries for research. Of course, many stores are still struggling, and more will likely close in the coming years. Flushing Video in Queens has remained afloat thus far by hinging its business on a large inventory of Bollywood films, but the owner said he is now operating in the red. [WSJ]


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