One of the last video rental chains in the United States, Family Video, announces that it will be closing all of its remaining locations.
In the 90s and early 2000s, video rental stores were commonplace throughout the United States, with one of the most notable franchises being Blockbuster. But thanks to the increasing popularity of streaming services like Netflix, companies like Blockbuster have gone out of business, to the point where there are only a handful of video rental stores left in the country. One by one, video rental chains have closed their doors, though one of the last to hold on was the midwest-based Family Video.
Family Video was similar to Blockbuster, renting out movies and video games to customers, and at one point, even letting people rent entire video game consoles themselves to take home. One key difference between Family Video and its competitors, though, was that the parent company Highland Ventures owns the property that the stores were operating in. As a result, it wasn't uncommon for Family Video stores to lease chunks of its operating space, or entire stores, to other businesses.
This strategy helped Family Video hold on longer than the other video rental stores did, but now it's been announced that Family Video is closing down all of its locations. In a statement released by Highland Ventures, Family Video's closure came about due to the impact of COVID-19 as well as the lack of new movies releases, which kept customers out of its stores.
Family Video's closure means that the vast majority of video rental stores no longer exist, but there are still some left in the US. In fact, Blockbuster has one store left in the US, located in Bend, Oregon. The last Blockbuster has an active social media presence and has become a tourist destination while still functioning as a standard video rental store. At the time of this writing, the last Blockbuster has nearly 500,000 followers on Twitter.
There doesn't seem to be an equivalent "last Blockbuster" location for Family Video, as Highland Ventures still owns most of the real estate that the stores existed in. These buildings will be leased to other businesses, as has been done in the past, and this way Highland Ventures will "remain tied" to the communities.
Those who grew up renting movies and video games may be sad to see stores like Family Video close down, but it was an inevitability. The popularity of digital media has grown exponentially in recent times, and is showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, one report said that 91% of the video game industry's revenue in 2020 came from digital sales.
In an age where dozens of games are launched each month and can be purchased both digitally and physically, the concept of a game rental company becomes somewhat archaic. Nevertheless, GameFly remains a staple alternative within the industry, offering a mail-service game rental alternative to paying full price. Apparently Alliance Entertainment, a wholesale distributor, agrees. Alliance announced Friday morning that it had acquired GameFly.
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