Family Video To Close Web Store, Ending the Chain's 44-Year Life

Family Video, the video rental and retail chain founded in 1978, will close its website soon, effectively ending the brand's 44-year life. No specifics are available yet, but Family Video sent an email blast to its customers on Wednesday announcing that the site will soon shut down, and that they are currently having a sale to liquidate inventory. The chain, which has had a few high-profile shout-outs on episodes of Netflix's Stranger Things, was the longest-running video chain in the U.S., and became the largest after competitors like Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and Movie Gallery closed.

The popularity of streaming video has done a number on the video store industry, with only a small number of mostly specialty stores still managing to remain afloat. Family Video, which often served remote and low-income communities where high speed internet was not available to everyone, launched a #SaveTheVideoStore campaign to help raise awareness of what video stores remained open in the U.S. in November 2020.

By January 2021, the company had 250 locations left when they announced that they would close their brick-and-mortar stores for good and become an internet-only storefront. Highland Ventures, the company that owns Family Video, had remained viable because they owned the property the stores were situated on. That meant that while Blockbuster and Hollywood had to worry about landlords, Family Video was paid in full before they opened, reducing their overall operating cost significantly.

The problem came when the covid-19 pandemic hit. Many small businesses struggled when foot traffic was significantly limited by stay-at-home orders, but video stores faced a secondary wave of bad news: all those movies that got delayed? Well, that means they aren't coming to video any time soon.

"It's our regulars that keeps us afloat, like any other business," Alexandra Beaton, who runs the store's social media accounts, told ComicBook in 2020. "They're coming in on Tuesdays, they're coming in on Fridays, and they know what they want. What really hurts lately, is no new releases. The studios aren't putting stuff out, and trying to hype some of the lesser titles has been a little bit of a challenge. Hopefully this means people can rediscover some of those older movies that aren't on streaming."

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You can head over to FamilyVideo.com to see the sale before the site is gone.

Are you sad to see the last vestige of Family Video go? Sound off in the comments, or hit up @RussBurlingame, former manager of Emerald City Video in DeWitt, NY, on Twitter to talk about the good old days.