PHILIPSBURG, CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – – With the advent of new technology, the method many use to watch movies from home has changed… a lot.
Movies in the VCR, Betamax (a blast from the past), and DVD format struggle to match the popularity of streaming movies online. Blockbuster, once a giant in the video world is now a memory… replaced with Netflix, Hulu and the like that offer flicks at the click of a button, on any device.
A video store in Philipsburg survived the last 10 years while streaming services have thrived. Now, the store will soon close.
Adventure Video, one of the last of its kind, joins a trend towards video store extinction. But, many locals wish long to keep this “endangered species” alive.
When outsiders drive past the Adventure Video store, located off Route 322 in Philipsburg… there’s a consensus on their reaction:
“Is that actually a video store?” mimicked longtime store customer and Philipsburg resident Jeff Williamson.
He was one of the store’s first customers when they opened 30 years ago… so for him, stopping-in at the store is just part of a typical week.
“Alright Jeff, what did you find today?” asked Tina, a longtime Store Manager.
“I found these… we’ll see how they are… don’t think I’ve seen them before,” Williamson replied.
“I don’t know how that’s possible,” Tina quipped.
To which Williamson said, “I know… I’ve seen quite a few.”
To some, “quite a few” is 50 or 60 movies. Williamson’s rented over 5,000 from the store.
“I come almost every week,” he said.
Williamson admits he’s “old school”, preferring to watch a movie he can hold in his hand.
“The physical contact you have with that object… it means a lot,” he said.
But, more than the objects on the shelves, it’s the people at the store that Williamson may miss the most.
“You consider them your film family… it’s your friends. The staff has always been exceptional… they’re one of the friendliest groups of people in the whole town,” he said.
The store’s co-owners Lenny and Lori Martin say it’s customers like Williamson that kept them in business… well into the age of streaming movies.
“There’s a lot of people who didn’t have cable or couldn’t stream… so they continued to keep us going until now,” said Lenny Martin.
Lenny says they’ve kept costs competitive, but that wasn’t enough to keep the store open.
“We’re half the price of downloading a streamed movie…. unless it’s Netflix… their programming got better throughout the years. It’s hard to compete with,” he said.
In their heyday, Lenny says his video stores (which included locations in Hollidaysburg, Tyrone, and Clearfield) paid for themselves during their first year, and made a solid profit after that. He also said many stores employed more than 20 local workers.
“It was exciting on a Friday night to come here… you would see kids running here everywhere with stacks of movies and games. But the future of the business looks like it’s a digital age… we are a dinosaur in a modern technology world,” said Lori Martin.
One-by-one, as movies sell out for good (currently at 40% off) the store shelves begin to empty.
“It’s sad to see the empty shelves… our hope is we can lease the building to someone that will continue to keep jobs in the area,” Lori said.
As for Williamson, he says he will not jump ship to Netflix or Hulu, but instead take up a new habit:
“I’ll probably start reading books,” he said… remaining loyal to the store that thrilled him and many others with classic scenes from the silver screen.
“It’s very sad to see it go… it really is,” Williamson said with a quiver in his voice.
Adventure video’s will close their doors for the last time on Saturday, October 12 at 9:00 pm.
There is one Adventure Video store, located in Clearfield, that has not announced plans to close. Ownership says the future of this location will depend on a consistent flow of customers.
Starting this Thursday, Oct 3, movies at the Philipsburg store will be 60% off.