SHERIDAN — The video store industry took another step toward mortality last week when Video Depot closed after about 19 years in town. It was the last store of its kind in Sheridan.
In 2007, there were more than 15,000 video rental stores in the country. Now the number is about 2,000, according to USA Today, meaning more than 85 percent of shops have closed in the past decade. That figure now includes Video Depot, which closed March 24 after a weeklong final sale. The building’s new tenant, Snap Fitness, officially moves in April 1.
Video Depot owner Jeff Price said the store closed a little earlier than he expected, but he saw it coming due to the prevalence of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Business had steadily gone down in recent years.
“I thought maybe I could get another year,” Price said. “But this past year it really slowed down and I had an opportunity where another tenant could come in and thought, ‘Let’s just do it now, instead of stretching it out a year.’”
Price owns the building on Coffeen Avenue, its location since January 2008. He took over in December 1998 when the store was located near the intersection of Coffeen Avenue and East Brundage Lane. He had worked at the store for two years before becoming owner and understood the business, making the transition relatively smooth.
Price changed the name to Video Depot — an homage to his love of trains — shortly after taking over. The store has always been open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days per week. Price worked six days per week and couldn’t help but think about the store on the seventh day.
New movies would arrive Tuesday and sell out nearly instantly.
“People are in Tuesday to get it and that’s the one movie they want all week long,” Price said. “Lately, that’s died off after a few weeks. Before, it would last six weeks.”
In recent years, Price purchased his films through the country’s last remaining movie distributor, Ingram Entertainment. When he started, there were 10 to 15 distributors for thousands of video stores. Now that number is dwindling.
“It is all mom and pop (stores) that are left in rural areas,” Price said. “It’s just like drive-in theaters; I compare it to that. Good time while they’re there, but everyone gravitates to move into their living room.”
Price isn’t sure what he’s going to do next but will relax for at least a few weeks. He doesn’t plan to go back into retail. With the store closing, Price said he will likely subscribe to Netflix.
A wide array of customers visited the store, forming their own cinephile community.
Video Depot customer Shelia Ross has been coming to the store for about 10 years, often to pick out movies and video games with her grandson.
She said it was unfortunate to see the store close, as it has been a community staple. She loved the personal interaction Price and the employees provided, with Price sometimes recommending games or movies to rent. With no more video stores in town, Ross plans to purchase a Netflix subscription.
“We don’t have a choice,” she said.
Video Depot employee Zakk David has been working there for almost three and a half years and said he learned a ton about filmmaking and customer service. He hopes to continue his love of movies by working at the Centennial Theater.
“I really enjoyed interacting and talking about movies with all the customers,” David said. “With the time that I’ve been here, I’ve really gotten to know a lot of them personally, which is cool. A lot of people have really great taste in movies in this town.”
Similarly, Price said it has been sad to see the response of customers and people in town who had a personal connection with the store.
“I can’t believe how many people are just really bummed out, like, ‘What are we going to do?’” he said. “That’s been tough, telling people that we’re gone, you know. A lot of them have been really good friends and been coming here for years and years and years. You get to know them, so I’ll miss that terribly. I’ll miss that a lot.”
Video Depot was the last of a dying breed in Sheridan.