Local video rental stores less affected by Netflix popularity; most students prefer media-streaming service

The rise in popularity of media-streaming services such as Netflix continue to spur video rental stores to close across the country, but Mount Pleasant may not be following that trend.

Isha Walter, store manager at Family Video, 317 N. Mission St., thinks the location is affected, though “not in a major way.” Everything has its pros and cons, she said, as Family Video caters to a different category of people than Netflix.

“So I know that college students are doing more of that (watching movies online) versus the families that come in here,” she said. “They’ve got their kids that can run around and look at video games while parents look at new releases.”

Illinois freshman Dan Botterman, like other students, said Netflix is “the way to go.” He recalled movie stores closing as Netflix gained users.

Netflix is often on the short list of reasons why stores like Blockbuster are closing locations across the east coast and through the Midwest, according to published reports.

Walter said there’s no current fear of Mount Pleasant’s Family Video closing. The local Blockbuster store, 911 E. Pickard St., forwarded Central Michigan Life to corporate media relations, which did not respond to inquiries in time for publication.

Services like Netflix took part of the blame when Mount Pleasant’s Videoland closed three years ago, according to an April 2009 CM Life report. The store’s owner then told CM Life she was getting fewer customers, who could have been partly drawn away by Netflix’s convenience.

“(With Netflix), you sit down in your house or in your dorm room and find a movie you want to watch,” Botterman said. “It takes 30 seconds.”

Botterman said most of his friends use Netflix.

Ashley Troyer reached a similar consensus among her friends. The St. Clair Shores senior often uses Netflix with her boyfriend, though on her own, she still gravitates toward Blockbuster.

“A lot of times I will use his Netflix account,” she said. “I like Netflix because it’s a really good deal, even though I don’t have one.”

It’s the different customer demographics that may help Netflix from being as affected in ongoing movie news. Warner Bros. is at the head of a surge this month to influence movie purchases with a delay in making DVD rentals available.

The biggest chains expected to resist the push, according to Bloomberg, are Blockbuster and Redbox kiosks, while Netflix stands to have room to wait.

Of all of them, Walter said video rental stores like Family Video are more personable and still have a place.

“We’re the face in town. Over the past holiday season, we donated turkeys to needy families,” she said. “Netflix can’t say that they do that. Redbox can’t say that they do that. We still have to pay taxes in the community. We’re still a very well-known face in the community.”


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