The news of TLA Video’s closing in Chestnut Hill is not sitting well with nearby residents.
For the past 23 years, the Germantown Avenue mainstay has provided Northwest Philadelphia neighbors with more than 25,000 rental titles from across all genres.
Since the announcement last Wednesday, the movie rentals have stopped and the store’s in clearance mode with deep discounts. At the end of January, it will share the fate of an increasing number of traditional video stores across the country.
“It’s kind of horrible,” said Mt. Airy resident Lisa Holgash of the closing.
Holgash, a self-described movie buff, has been renting videos from the location since she moved to the area in 1990.
Still, she wasn’t that surprised by the shut-down. Renting videos is a luxury, she said, and many people simply don’t have the cash to spare as the country tries to rebound from the recession.
“People are probably going to the library more and renting for free,” said Holgash.
As for Holgash, she said she hasn’t turned to Netflix and other online video stores yet, but may have to once the store shutters its doors.
Chestnut Hill resident Carol Penn is also considering a switch to the online rental world, but said she’ll miss walking into a physical store.
“You don’t have the ability to touch and feel things on the internet and it’s private,” said Penn. “There’s nothing social about it.”
In particular, Penn said she’ll miss asking TLA’s employees for recommendations and movie critiques. “I think every time we came to TLA we asked a question,” she said.
But as a resident living near a commercial corridor dotted with vacancies, Penn said she’s also upset that there will be yet another one to fill.
Michael Williams from Germantown said he was shocked when he found out about the closing.
The variety of old and new movies is unbeatable, he said. Also visiting TLA for him is convenient, “I can just get up and say ‘well I’m just going to ride to the store and get a video,'” he said.
Williams said he prefers traditional video stores because he enjoys browsing the shelves and walking out with a movie he hadn’t planned on watching.
For that reason, Williams said he’ll continue to support TLA Video at its remaining locations in Center City and Bryn Mawr.
TLA Video ownership said those locations are stable for now.
TLA has closed a number of its area stores
Stores on South Street and Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia along with spots in New York and New Jersey were previously closed.
Claire Kohler, co-founder of the independent company, said the Chestnut Hill location is closing after a sustained drop-off in sales from video rentals.
The decline, she explained, stems from two main sources.
The rental industry is rapidly trending towards digital downloads, home delivery services and stand-alone kiosks and away from traditional rental stores.
Even large video rental chains are suffering, she added.
Blockbuster Video recently filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and has closed hundreds of stores. (The one in Chestnut Hill remains open.) Hollywood Video has closed all together.
“It’s sad but it’s the wave of the future,” said Kohler.
The Germantown Ave. construction hurt sales
Kohler said a year-plus long PennDOT project that at times completely closed down parts of Germantown Avenue, Mermaid Lane and Winston Road didn’t help hold off that trend.
“You couldn’t get to us,” said Kohler.
She said many re-routed renters went elsewhere during the construction and didn’t return when it was finally completed.
“It was really one of the nails in the coffin,” said Kohler who estimated that 60 percent of the business at the Chestnut Hill location came from rentals.
TLA Video as a whole is doing fine as the vast majority of the business is rooted in online movie sales.
But Kohler said she’s upset about the 10 employees at Chestnut Hill losing their jobs.
“That’s the worst aspect of this entire closing,” said Kohler.