Longtime local video shop closing
CHAMPAIGN — That's Rentertainment, a locally owned and operated video store that has been in business for 30 years, plans to close in mid-August.
Owner Geoff Merritt said the store at Sixth and John streets in Campustown will continue renting films through the end of July, but will start selling off inventory June 15.
Merritt said he tried to hang in as long as he could, but concluded that video rental stores are no longer viable.
"We had a couple ideas on how to salvage things, but in the end, the era of the video store is behind us," he said. "We're not going to have a revival like record stores."
Merritt said there are so many other ways that people can get entertainment — through Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, for example. People are generally satisfied enough with what's available there that they're less willing to make the trip to campus, he said.
That's Rentertainment will continue to get virtually all new releases through June and some major releases in July, he said.
The store's inventory includes 46,000 discs — about 5,200 of them Blu-ray discs. Prices during the sell-off will decrease as weeks pass by.
"Rather than price each film individually, we'll set a price (which will lower regularly) and sell everything at that price," Merritt said in a posting on the store's website. "A few box sets will be pulled and priced individually."
The store was known for its selection of international, independent, classic American and art house films.
That's Rentertainment, which opened in 1985, occupied three locations in Johnstowne Centre at Fifth and John streets before moving down the street to its current location at 516 E. John St., C, in 1994. Merritt leases about 1,300 square feet there and said he didn't know how the space would be used after he vacates it.
About a half-dozen people work at the store, he said, and his best memories of the store involve the employees. At one time, as many as 30 to 40 people worked there, he said.
After the store closes, Merritt said he will continue to devote time to putting out CDs through the Parasol Label Group. He's also planning to rehabilitate the Parasol warehouse and to continue to operate the Itty Bitty Bike Shop inside that building.
Merritt said the impending closure at That's Rentertainment reflects what's going on at some of the larger independent video stores around the nation. Many have tried different models, but "in the last six months or so, so many other great video stores have shut down," he said, citing examples on the West Coast and in Louisville, Ky.