October 21, 2021

Video store holds niche in city

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Aisha Thomas, assistant manager at Family Video, 64 N. Main St., returns rented videos to their racks Tuesday afternoon. Despite a nationwide decline in DVD sales and rentals, business “is good” at the Cortland store, Thomas said.

Online streaming services such as Netflix have become a primary source for movie and television show watching in the past few years, providing original content like “Daredevil” and a catalog of movies.

A study by the Wall Street Journal in 2013 found Netflix subscriptions went up 32 percent, while DVD sales dropped 8 percent and movie rentals at stores fell 14 percent.

However, at Cortland’s Family Video, at 64 N. Main St. — a half-hour after opening at 10 a.m. Tuesday — with people in line holding a handful of movies, you would be hard-pressed to notice a decline.

“Business is good. A lot of people pass through here,” said Aisha Thomas, assistant manager at Family Video.

She guessed the store may see 100 people a day, but said the number varies, depending on the day. Weekends are the store’s busiest days, and when kids get out of school there is an increase in rentals as well, Thomas said. Tuesday was also the day that new releases are put on the shelves.

“People still like to talk with us and to ask our opinion on movies,” Thomas said, explaining why she thinks people like renting movies from Family Video.

And people are not just renting movies, but they are renting entire television shows as well, she said.
However, renting television shows may be less of a trend than renting movies.

Antonio Kanutson, of Cortland, said he usually watches his favorite television series online, but when it comes to movies he will still go out and rent them.

“It is just easier that way,” he said.

Vivian Lomonaco, also of Cortland, shared Kanutson’s preference, as she too prefers to rent movies.

“I prefer to watch nice, clean movies, like ‘The Jungle Book,’ and it is easy to find what I want and pick it out at the store,” Lomonaco said.

In Cortland County, other than free rentals from a limited selection at the library, or paying to rent videos from Family Video or Red Boxes, there are not many options for people to rent movies. Movies can be purchased at department stores or one of the next closest options, The Movie House and More, at 12 W. Main St. in Dryden.

Charles Tipling, the owner of the store, began selling movies as just a hobby, before turning it into a full-time business about two years ago.

“I’ve been doing great ever since opening,” Tipling said.

He sells old and modern, new and used movies, all of which he watches before he puts them up to sell. So, unlike other stores that will just stock the latest movies, he knows about everything he is selling.

“I like to watch the movies and rate them,” Tipling said. “The more I like them, the more I charge for them and the less I like them the cheaper they are.”

His prices are one reason he said he believes people like shopping at his store. And the fact that people still like to buy a movie and have it for themselves.

“Some prefer Netflix and some don’t,” he said.