Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tucked in the corner of a Fremont Street shopping center, Video To Go has for decades built its reputation as a one-stop-shop for foreign, classic and obscure films.
But fans of the Monterey shop may have noticed a “Store Closing Sale” sign posted in the window. Call it a sign of the times, says owner Kristen Jensen – hopefully one that won’t come true.
“We’re looking for a smaller shop with less overhead so we don’t have to close,” says Jensen, who started working at Video To Go as a part-time employee 17 years ago.
Response to their financial hardship has loyal customers up in arms. The store launched 30 years ago in the home of founders Bob and Virginia Bobin.
“I would be brokenhearted if they close,” says Pat Lockhart, a Monterey resident who has turned to the store for a dozen years as her source for British films. “Kristen knows all of her customers and her inventory, which is surprising given her large collection.”
Jensen has received several tips on rental properties from customers who don’t want it to go under.
Established chains like Blockbuster are restructuring under bankruptcy protection. And with competition from Netflix, Red Box, Comcast On Demand and Direct TV On Demand offering the convenience of in-home rental, Video To Go is struggling to bring in new customers.
“Three or four studios ship films to us 28 days before Netflix and Red Box in an attempt to combat the competition, so that helps a little,” says Jensen. “Though, it’s so hard to know what’s going to happen in this economy.”
Few regulars, some traveling from as far as Big Sur, come for the new releases, however.
The movie poster-lined store houses a large variety of DVDs and VHS tapes for rent, with some for sale under $10. Its selection of British films is extensive.
“We like to carry movies that others don’t,” says Jensen. “Most stores only go through their immediate distributors, but if we don’t have a movie someone is looking for, I’ll find it for them.”