It is no secret that in the the age of streaming movies, video and DVD rental stores don’t have a bright future.
The evidence is all around us in Northwest Philadelphia. After more than 20 years of business the popular TLA Video at 7630 Germantown Ave. closed last year and Blockbuster closed its stores in Chestnut Hill and Roxborough. Industry research firm IBIS World has put video rentals on its top 10 list of dying industries.
So, how does a place like Video Library in Mt. Airy stay open? Well, not having to pay rent probably helps. Video Library, 7141 Germantown Ave., is owned by the buildings owner David Fellner. He’s also not making money on it. “This is not something you do because you think you are gonna make a lot of money.” Fellner said.
Having a vacant building also wouldn’t be good for Fellner or the community. So, the Video Library is playing a bigger role for Mt. Airy than just renting movies. It’s “part of creating a cultural focus for community,” he said.
While companies like Netflix have wreaked havoc on video stores, there also those little red boxes to worry about. Redbox has two rental kiosks in Mt. Airy alone. But holdouts like Video Library do have one advantage over them, Both Netflix and Redbox must wait 30 days after a film’s DVD rental release date before making them available to their customers.
Mt. Airy’s only video/DVD store also offers something most video stores never have, an ice cream shop. It also has a small screening room in the back that is rented for birthday parties.
For many video customers, loyalty to this locally owned business plays a large role in why they still rent movies here. Esther Miller says she has been going to the Video Library for “Forever, longer than Qian (her nearly 18 year old daughter) has been alive.”
Miller’s fine with watching movies on DVD. “I don’t even have the right TV for streaming movies.”
In Fellner view of things, stores are one of the main characteristics that make up a community. A neighborhood is defined by the places and people in it, and Fellner wants to make sure Video Library can help his small corner the world remain vibrant.