CHEVY CHASE, Md. -
At one time, Blockbuster had 9,000 retail stores. This week the video rental chain announced that it will close all 300 of its remaining stores.
Independent video rental stores have also declined. But a few are still open. Locally, one of the remaining independent stores is Potomac Video Center, on Connecticut Ave in Chevy Chase, D.C.
With 50,000 movies on the shelves, Potomac Video looks like a thriving business. But, like Blockbuster, Potomac Video has been shrinking and shrinking.
In an interview, general manager Matt McNevin told us: "At our peak in the late '90's, early oughts, there was 24 stores that we had in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. HOW MANY DO YOU HAVE NOW? Now, we're down to one."
And, in that final location, the floor space has been cut in half to save money on rent. Still, 50,000 titles is a lot from which to choose. "I like looking through the store," explained customer Mary Fernandez. "I like looking for some of the old movies that bring back nostalgia."
Nowadays, most people download their movies at home through the internet. But that doesn't always work. "If there's a glitch, or if it's not downloading properly, it creates a lot of anger," said customer Janna Haynes. "And frustration." Which is why Janna and her young daughter were browsing the shelves at Potomac Video. The same was true for the Flanagans, said papa Mike Flanagan: "Our kids wanted to watch a movie that wasn't available on Netflix. That wasn't available on Amazon Prime. We didn't have it anywhere else. So we said: 'Let's go to the video store!'"
The general manager at Potomac Video says the store is currently "breaking even", What would help the store survive? Matt McNevin says: "If we just get a few customers com[ing] in an extra time a month, or even just once a month, we'd be OK."
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