Family Video closing marks end of an era

Family Video closing marks end of an era
The Family Video in Mexico is dark after the company closed its remaining locations nationwide, ending a 42-year run. [Nathan Lilley]
Dave Faries

Remember membership cards? Or the battle between Beta and VHS? Happy little reminders like “be kind, rewind”?

With the announcement that Family Video is shuttering its remaining stores across the U.S., including the one in Mexico, those memories from the golden era of movie rentals dimmed just a little more.

That Family Video survived for 42 years is often credited to the company’s strategy of locating many of its stores in smaller towns, where there weren’t movie rental options on every corner.

The company survived what had been a rapidly changing industry, transitioning from videotape to DVD. But in the wake of a topsy-turvy 2020, the company announced that it simply couldn’t hold on any longer.

It outlasted Hollywood Video, Movie Gallery, Top Hat, all those independent operations and even – with one exception – the industry giant, Blockbuster.

There is a Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon that refused to close after the company went bust in 2013, its business faltering as digital streaming took off.

“The impact of COVID-19, not only in foot traffic but also in the lack of movie releases, pushed us to the end of an era,” said CEO Keith Hoogland in a letter posted on the company website.

Highland Ventures of Glenview, Illinois is the parent company of Family Video.

Family Video was founded three years after VCRs hit the consumer market in 1975. It quickly entered a golden age of perusing shelves, asking for recommendations, sneaking a peak at the back room where X-rated films were stored. In the 1980s even grocery stores rented movies and videotape players.

By 1988 there were over 25,000 dedicated movie rental stores in the U.S., along with 45,000 other shops that included video rental options. In 1989 it was estimated that a new Blockbuster opened every 17 seconds.
There were over 8,000 Blockbusters around the world. At its height, Family Video operated some 800 stores across the country.

In closing the company’s remaining 250 stores, all inventory will be liquidated – DVDs, popcorn, candy and all, right down to the shelves.

Redbox remains as the last nod to the glory days of actually fiddling with a DVD case. It operates 41,000 kiosks, including two in Mexico.


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