Video stores surviving

Kevin Wilson

Here lies the mom and pop video store.

The eulogy’s been written numerous times, whether it was the conversion to DVD, the video rental kiosk, national movie rental chains or the little red Netflix envelopes.

Yet there lies Talico Video and Book Exchange in Clovis, with a new coat of paint on the outside and new drink and snack options on the inside, with longtime clerks telling customers the “Knight and Day” DVD is due back tomorrow at 7 p.m.

And there lies Landall’s, in its renovated Fourth Street and Avenue C headquarters. Dozens of copies of “Inception” are awaiting rental, sitting on shelves Landall’s purchased from Movie Gallery, which closed this summer after the parent company filed for bankruptcy.

“It was always our goal to be the last man standing in town, and we’ve reached that goal,” said owner Peggy Goolsby, who noted that one more year in Portales makes it 20.

It’s been 30 for Talico Video and Book Exchange. Both have survived the transition with simple business devices — refuse to concede and offer services the others don’t.

Sarah Scioli, a manager at Talico, said the family-owned business is always looking for ways to use its space on 13th and Prince streets, especially since a VHS sale gutted most of the space dedicated to movies. Where stacks of tapes once lied, there are now soda fountains, refrigerators for smoothies and smoking supplies available at the drive-up window — one more revenue stream.

“Whenever we try (something),” said Scioli, who credits her uncle, store owner Mike Scioli, for finding new features, “we keep it going, find other ways to improve.”

Scioli said a Ranchvale location they used to run had tanning beds, but their current location doesn’t have the electric requirements. Landall’s operates tanning beds — an easy revenue source, Goolsby said, because they have the space and they can stay open longer hours than stand-alone tanning operations.

The conversion to DVD helped in many simple ways, as discs are cheaper to produce and ship than cassettes.

“We just get a lot more copies,” Goolsby said. “We used to pay $60, $70 per copy for one VHS. The price has gone down, so we get a lot more copies.”

That same theory took root in other competitors. A Redbox kiosk wouldn’t be the size of a vending machine, and a Netflix envelope wouldn’t fit in a mail slot, if VHS was still the way to go (never mind heat damage).

But movies still depend on cooperation with studios, Goolsby said. The new releases Talico, Landall’s and Hastings in Clovis have now often aren’t available to Netflix and Redbox for the first 30 days of release.

“The studios won’t let them have those,” Goolsby said. “They don’t like them renting for a dollar; they don’t like the concept.”

Goolsby said Landall’s works with Rentrak, which can provide up to 135 copies and works on a commission basis. A portion of a new release’s rental price is transmitted at the point of sale — normally about $1.50 per rental — and once the movie’s been rented a certain number of times the store owns it. That movie can be kept as a new release, moved to the cheaper catalog section or sold it as a pre-owned copy.

A movie is leased for six months under such terms, Goolsby said, but the lease is normally paid off within a month for a popular release.

Another revenue stream that nationwide companies often decline are adult sections. Those can certainly help a bottom line, because a store can stock fewer titles and charge higher rental fees. Scioli said it helps at Talico, and Goolsby said customers wanted the option.

“We didn’t add it for a long time, and people kept asking,” Goolsby said. “It’s just public demand.”

Talico isn’t the only movie rental business in Clovis, of course, with Hastings around. But while conceding that Hastings’ prices are better for a five-day period, Scioli notes that single-day rentals are cheaper up front at Talico.

“A lot of customers will be back the next day anyway, so there’s no point keeping it five days.”

The next death knell for video rental stores, Goolsby said, is video on demand. Amazon.com, for instance, offers a 24-hour rental of “Knight and Day” for $3.99 — more expensive than Landall’s by $1, but available without travel.

“Eventually, you’ll get it all off of direct streaming, but that’s years off,” Goolsby said. “We as consumers can’t keep up with technology as fast as it comes.”

Goolsby isn’t sure how Landall’s would compete with that, but there’s no reason to stop now. Landall’s opened up a new location in Hereford three months ago. And Goolsby sees reminders every day — like a section of movies recommended by current and former employees — that there’s a place for the small movie rental business.

“Customer service is a key factor,” she said of mom-and-pop stores. “People who work there love movies, and it shows.”