Video store faces digital dilemma: Either move forward-fast-or eject

By Layton Ehmke

Homer Tribune

After more than 20 years of business, Point West Video in Homer will shut down this year, due in part to competition with other local video-renting stores, online and cable movie renting, and what a number of local business owners have called a slow year.
An added complication is that the store still has funds tied up in VHS, a technology quickly becoming obsolete. It’s no surprise that VHS is the dinosaur in the digital age, and it takes its toll as a business’s commodity. Video renters naturally have an increasingly difficult time making a living from lending the tapes, said Barb Jacobs, who owns Barb’s Video in Homer.
“Slowly but surely, we’re pulling them off the shelves and selling them,” Barb said. “What do you do with them?”
Now Jacobs buys more DVDs, and struggles to compete with Internet movie lenders, satellite, cable and video on demand, and Blockbuster. One Internet lender, NetFlix, advertises that for $17.99 per month, a movie buff could get three films at a time, with unlimited time restraints and no shipping costs. It also advertises that it has some 55,000 titles to choose from.  
Locally, Jacobs said the new thing is to own your own copy of a film. She said competition within that market is tight enough already with larger stores. Plus, with the possibility of a Fred Meyer opening an outlet in the city, it would only get tighter.
Jacobs said the business has dramatically changed since DVDs took over VHS. She said DVDs cost far less than VHS tapes, but have a short life.
“The biggest thing is that DVDs don’t last as long, and you have to buy more copies of a movie. People just destroy them,” Jacobs said. “But tapes last 20 or more years of hard use.”
No matter how tough those VHS tapes are, they’ll still wind up packed and stashed away in cardboard.
The Harringtons will transfer many of the Homer store’s videos to the Anchor Point location. As for the rest, they’ll get boxed up and sit in the attic. The store’s last day is May 2, when employees will be open for returns. At that point, they will box up the some 12,000 videos, one by one.
Monica Pelkey has been working at Point West in Homer since the last time the business changed hands, and said the local clientele is sad to see it go.
“I’ve seen the same faces all this time — a lot of people will miss it,” Pelkey said. The video store has been for sale for about one year, and the Point West Video store in Anchor Point will remain open. Pelkey said that store does rather well, as it is the only store of its kind in the Anchor Point area. Anchor Point businessman, Stan Harrington, has owned Point West Video approximately four years. Harrington is traveling and could not be reached for comment.
Pelkey said she was expecting to see a more profitable December, but like others, felt a trough in business that did not pick up with the holidays.  
“It’s kind of sad. I’ll miss it down here in the corner,” Pelkey said.
Terry Harrington said the store’s closing also has to do with the couple’s goal of retiring.
“We’re trying to downsize our businesses, and this makes sense to do because the Homer business has slacked off and slowed down,” Harrington said. “With satellite and cable and other stores, we can’t compete. This simply wasn’t making us a living.” 

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Posted by on Jan 4th, 2006 and filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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