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Video rental market changes,forces North Canaan closure

NORTH CANAAN — What might have seemed like a recession-proof business is set to close its doors.  Video World Superstore on Railroad Street expects to be gone by mid-January.

Owner Bob Drake took over the movie and video game rental and retail store about six years ago, with his wife, Brenda. He said they are currently losing money every month. While a bad economy may play into it, video rentals are a cheap and popular form of entertainment, and are often one of the last luxuries people are willing to give up. But too much competition, and an oil-heated space that is not energy efficient, are making it impossible for the Drakes to continue.

“People are just not coming to the store,” Drake said. “They’re using Redbox because they’re at Stop & Shop anyway, and its only a dollar. They can rent videos in Cumberland Farms and BJs now. There’s pay-per-view and Netflix. It’s all either cheaper or easier. Video rental stores have run their course.”

The business was formerly North Star Video, which opened on North Elm Street at about the same time VCRs were becoming commonplace in homes. About 10 years ago, North Star moved to Railroad Street, seeking more space for its thriving business.

The Drakes took over the space when both videotapes and DVDs were in big demand, remodeling to accommodate both.

The town proposes a tax abatement program for businesses renting storefronts that might have provided a boost, but not likely.

Stores have some competition from town libraries. Scoville Memorial Library in Salisbury, reports are a steady increase since they began loaning videos. There is also a link on the Web site to Wowbrary, which lists all the latest books and videos. At Douglas Library in North Canaan, the town report shows 726 videos, plus the interlibrary circulation, went out 4,426 times last year.

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