by Ann Bucy
SBJ Contributing Writer
They're everywhere. From Battlefield to Kearney, from Independence to Kansas Expressway, and points in between: Springfield video rental customers need not worry about running out of options any time soon in a market heavily stocked with video stores.
"Right now, the market is saturated," said Chris Case, a three-year employee of Hastings Books Music & Video. "That's why some of the smaller, regional chains go out of business. There are just too many choices."
He said that Hastings isn't dominating the video rental business, but then neither is anyone else. "Instead, everyone has a piece of the pie."
Case added that while the rental of videos has decreased, the purchase of them is picking up. "Sales have really picked up in the last two years," he said.
"I'm not sure why. The prices have declined, though. Most of them sell for between $15 and $18 or less. Also, the video industry is aiming at collectors now. They're releasing wide-screen versions, and we're seeing old movies re-released with THX, like in the movie theaters, for better sound. They're also redoing old Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas films."
Steve Wooten, manager of Hollywood Video on Kearney, disagreed somewhat with Case regarding the overall current market for videos. "We've been pretty busy at both locations," he said. "In fact, I think we're a little busier than we were last year."
He attributes the rise to three things: "There are better movies coming out now, and people don't want to be outside in the hot sun. There's also the fact that our kids' movies are free to rent. So we have a lot of kids coming in, especially during the summer months."
Christmas and big movie releases are the best times for video purchases, Case said. "Good Will Hunting just came out on video, and that movie was a big hit. A lot of people will be wanting to rent that one. But you never can predict how the public will react. Last summer, Batman and Robin was a video bomb. No one was renting that one."
Wooten agreed that big movie releases help the purchase and rental sales of videos.
"'Amistad,' 'As Good As It Gets,' 'Wag the Dog' and 'Scream 2' have all been big in video rental. The titles vary though for video purchases," he said.
Meanwhile, people who collect videos are also beginning to purchase movies in the Digital Video Disc format, according to Case. He describes it as "a movie on a CD. The sound and picture are 10 times better than a video cassette. Also, you can choose if you want to see the film on a standard screen or on a wide screen (like at the movie theater)."
The current drawback to the disc is that it requires a DVD video player. "Right now, the average price for the player is $350," Case said. "But I think that after one more Christmas season, the price will go down." Hastings is now targeting the customer interested in DVD, according to Case. "They're for people who are serious about their videos and who want the best quality."
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.