How America’s Last Video Store Chain Survived Recessions and Streaming – But Not COVID

Umberto Gonzalez
·1-min read

Over its four decades in business, the Midwestern-based video rental chain Family Video had to deal with changing tastes, recessions and the rise of digital media. But like a lot of businesses in the last year, America’s last surviving video chain finally met its match with COVID-19. Founded in Springfield, Ohio, in 1978, Family Video operated 800 stores at its peak. But earlier this month, parent company Highland Ventures announced that Family Video would begin the liquidation of its remaining stores, offering deals on “DVDs, Blu-rays, Popcorn, The Sour Patch Guy, Gumball Machine, Shelves and everything else.” With its announcement, the company included a boast worth keeping in mind: “Surviving 10 years longer than the big 3, Blockbuster, Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video.” Also Read: Will Biden Roll Out COVID Vaccines Fast Enough for Movie Theaters - and Spring Blockbusters? So how exactly did Family video outlive its three biggest competitors but also survive in the digital streaming age? The answer is real estate — an aspect of the operation that distinguished it from its biggest competition. Blockbuster, which had as many as 9,000 locations in the late 1990s before filing for bankruptcy in 2010, desperately tried to renegotiate its...

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