• Family Video, the Midwestern Rental Chain That Outlasted Blockbuster, Closes All 250 Stores

    Family Video, the Midwestern Rental Chain That Outlasted Blockbuster, Closes All 250 Stores

    Executives Attribute Decision to COVID-19, Lack of New Film Releases

    Family Video leases 3,000 square feet at 609 Pennsylvania Ave. E in Warren, Pennsylvania. (CoStar)
    Family Video leases 3,000 square feet at 609 Pennsylvania Ave. E in Warren, Pennsylvania. (CoStar)

    Family Video, the last prominent national video rental chain, said it's permanently closing all its brick-and-mortar stores as a result of the challenges brought by the pandemic.

    The 42-year-old company, which once operated as many as 800 locations, said it plans to close its more than 250 stores throughout the United States. The last day for video rentals was Wednesday.

    “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,” Keith Hoogland, CEO of private equity firm and Family Video owner Highland Ventures, said in a statement.

    The closing of Family Video marks the final chapter for major video rental store chains, which were once the go-to spot for all kinds of consumers ranging from families to packs of young adults on Friday and Saturday nights in America.

    For the past decade, video rental stores have increasingly been closing as they face a steep, uphill climb to compete with other at-home entertainment services such as rental kiosk Redbox and streaming content providers Netflix and Hulu that render a trip out obsolete. Perhaps the most prominent video rental chain, Blockbuster, shuttered almost all of its stores by 2014.

    The pandemic has increased those challenges as few consumers want to enter stores, handle videos and risk exposure to the virus, while Hollywood studios postponed production and the release of major films that the stores relied on to rent or sell.

    Family Video, based in Glenview, Illinois, closed about half its more than 500 locations last year before announcing the closing of the remaining stores this week.

    Efforts to Stay Open

     

    At its peak, Family Video employed 10,000 workers nationwide. It competed against Blockbuster, which at one point operated more than 9,000 stores, and partnered with other vendors in recent years in an effort to try to evolve its brand for a modern audience.

    In 2012, Family Video partnered with Marco’s Pizza, a pizza franchise based in Ohio, to share storefronts. Two years later, the companies had opened 52 locations together.

    In an effort to bring in more consumers in 2019, the company began carrying products featuring cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical compound from the marijuana plant that can produce calming mental and physical effects but does not contain the part of the plant that produces a high. CBD products are legal in all 50 states.

    It made several other efforts to stay open, including launching a marketing campaign last year called "Save the Video Store." The attempts don't appear to have been successful enough to stave off the broader trend.

    All of the stores’ inventory, from the Blu-rays to the gumball machines, will be for sale, according to the company’s website. Stores are scheduled to officially close once all items are sold.

    The company intends to continue selling products and memorabilia online, according to its website.

    Family Video said it plans closings in:

    • Michigan: 58 stores.
    • Illinois: 31 stores.
    • Ohio: 25 stores.
    • Wisconsin: 23 stores.
    • Indiana: 21 stores.
    • Missouri: 19 stores.
    • Oklahoma: 17 stores.
    • Kansas: nine stores.
    • Pennsylvania: nine stores.
    • Iowa: seven stores.
    • Texas: seven stores.
    • North Carolina: six stores.
    • Minnesota: four stores.
    • Kentucky: four stores.
    • Tennessee: four stores.
    • South Carolina: three stores.
    • Nebraska: two stores.