By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (August 25, 2016) – Not long ago, big chain video stores moved into towns across the country, threatening to force mom and pop movie rental shops out of business. They had corporate buying power, touted a wide selection, advertised savings, offered incentives and flew flags with names like Blockbuster, Hastings and Movie Gallery.
Those days are history. In Stephenville, a single family now has exclusivity when it comes to local movie rental stores. Mike Spoores, also known as Movie Mike, his wife Lisa and the couple’s children operate Videos and More. It’s the only remaining video rental store in Stephenville since Hastings Entertainment halted its service a couple of months ago.
Blockbuster closed all of its retail stores by early 2014, including a location in Stephenville. Movie Gallery, which also had a local store, was at one time the second largest movie rental chain the nation but closed in 2010. By October 31, each of the 126 Hastings stores, including the Bosque River Center location, will be as shut down as its one-time rental service.
Despite the bankruptcies and buyouts, Videos and More opened a little more than a year ago recently relocated to larger storefront at 931 West Washington Street. There are even plans in the near future for expanding the shop’s services even further – and for good reason.
“I have a passion for movies,” Mike said. “And Hollywood offers us a lot of entertainment.”
There’s no doubt Americans love to be entertained. Many would argue nothing is more relaxing than enjoying a good flick from the comfort of their couch. And renting movies remains one of the most cost effective ways for a family of four to share a good time.
Plus, there is something to be said about the power of the pause button. No worries of missing the movie’s climax while taking the kiddos on their third bathroom break. Not a single valuable minute lost while refilling sodas at $7 per cup.
“The average family just doesn’t have that kind of money to spend,” Lisa said.
“Instead, they can come in here and get the latest new releases for just $3 for two nights,” Mike said, adding older titles are available for just $1 for two nights.
Sure, Netflix and similar streaming services and self-serve kiosks offer a selection of titles. But, they do so without so much as a handshake or a smile, and Mike said that’s not all they’re lacking.
“Stores like ours, the mom and pop stores, will continue to thrive,” he said. “It all goes back to nostalgia.”
Memories of mom and dad packing the kiddos into the minivan and heading down to the rental store. The entire family milling through the aisles of viewing options. Staring at posters, seemingly larger than life and advertising the newest releases. Selecting titles that would play across the home entertainment system after a back-and-forth between siblings vying to have their selection chosen as the one to take home. Memories of family movie night are as much about the experience as the viewing.
And there is still something to be said about the hands-on experience and customer interaction Videos and More offers.
“Our customers enjoy the experience of coming into the video store, picking up the case, looking at the pictures on the box and reading about it,” Mike said.
“We know your name and recognize your face,” Lisa added. “To be successful, you have to know your customers.”
Just like the “big boys” once did, Videos and More offers a new selection of movies every Tuesday, including the blockbusters and the newest releases.
“We also get a good selection of movies that would never see the light of day in other stores,” he said. “We don’t have a supplier making the decisions. We make the decisions.”
“That’s part of personally knowing the customers and your community and what they like and want to see,” Lisa added.
In as little as a week or two, the Spoores will unveil an aptly decorated area of horror movies and thrillers complete with spooky décor and the occasional wicked sound.
They will also continue to add “more” to the video store, which also includes Mike contends is the best selection of vintage video games and gaming systems in the local area and a selection of knives that Lisa added are popular among shoppers.
“I am always bringing in something new, you just have to come in to see what we have to offer,” Mike said.