October 25, 2021

Family Video to end run

Store in Cortland a victim of falling profits due to virus

Kevin L. Smith/staff reporter

Gage and Crystal Lamis of Cortland peruse the stacks of Family Video on North Main Street, looking to complete their collection of “The Walking Dead” series. The store, among the last video stores around, will close its doors forever on Oct. 25, a victim of COVID-19.

Gage and Crystal Lamis of Cortland were at the Family Video store in Cortland on Friday afternoon looking to complete their collection of “The Walking Dead” television series.

“We love this show,” Gage Lamis said. The Family Video, a staple in the city of Cortland for more than 15 years, is closing its doors Oct. 25.

Adam Chase, district manager for Family Video in New York state, said the announcement of closure was mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gage Lamis, who grew up in Springfield, Missouri, said video stores like Family Video in his hometown were “closing left and right.”

“It’s a shame because I can remember as a kid being able to enjoy movie night,” he said, adding viideo stores like this helped families who couldn’t afford to go to movie theaters.

The store is selling its 6,000 movies and several hundred video games, Chase said. “I don’t like that it’s closing at all,” said Gary Pelton of Virgil. “I’m going to miss this store.”

Before the pandemic, Chase said the store was profitable. But since reopening on June 1, business has been down and new movies “have been nonexistent due to movie theaters closing down during the pandemic as well,” he said. “Customers come in and wonder why there’s nothing new out.”

Eight employees will lose their jobs. “It’s been tough because they’re such a solid group of workers,” Chase said.

Along with the store in Cortland, 500 of the chain’s 550 stores across the country are closing, Chase said, including 10 of the 14 in New York.

A core customer base kept the store going, even with competition from streaming video services.

“We had a pretty good following of people who loved movies,” Chase said. “We’ve also had people who wanted to go to the theater and pay to watch movies on the big screen, and then go to back to the video store a few months to watch a physical copy of it.”

Chase said a handful of customers left complaints expressing their disappointment.

“We can’t stay open based off of that unfortunately,” he said. “It’s been a primary source for them when it comes to entertainment, but we just can’t stay because we’re not profitable anymore.”

Bob Haight, executive director for the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, said it was sad to hear the lone video store in the community is closing.

“If you look back a couple of decades, there were multiple stores like Family Video,” he said. “In some way, they’ve been able to survive through everything, but now they’ve been become a victim of COVID.”