By: Jane Ma
While many movie rental chains are closing due to online competition, the Family Video on 105 North Waverly continues to bring in customers with lower prices and friendly customer service.
“After working at Hollywood Video before they closed, I know that Family Video is able to offer lower rental fees because we have a lot lower overheads,” said Thomas Fraizer, Family Video employee and MSU graduate student. “Unlike most chains that rents or leases, Family Video owns their own properties.”
Family Video remains one of few movie rental chains despite being challenged by the emerging online movie streaming websites.
According to Frazier, the problem with the services offered by websites such as Netflix, Hulu and iTunes, is that their content is fragmented. You may have to get multiple subscriptions or visit numerous websites just to get what you’re looking for.
However, Family Video stores are able to provide customers with a larger variety of movies for a longer period of time.
“I like the dependability we offer to our customers,” said Allison Richmond, Family Video employee and Lansing Community College student. “We have a wide selection of movies stocked on our shelves. Unlike Netflix, our content does not vary from week to week and we still keep old movies in our stores. We are open all the time, every day from 10 a.m. to midnight. We are never closed; we are even open on Christmas.”
According to Richmond, another issue with online streaming is the need for high speed Internet; some people may not have access to it or be able to afford it.
The Family Video in Lansing Township has been open since October of 1998 and remains as one of the area’s few reliable places for affordable movie rentals.
“I come to Family Video because it’s better than its competitors,” said Gerald Puma, Family Video customer and Lansing Township resident. “Computers may seem convenient, but nothing beats the simplicity of stepping into a store. I like the friendly customer service here and that I am supporting a business in my neighborhood. I can always count on some good movie reviews from the people that work here.”
As a family oriented business, Family Video offers free kids movie rentals in every one of their locations where people can rent movies for their kids free of charge.
“Family Video is a very down to earth, family friendly business,” said Bianca Helton, Family Video employee and mother of two. “That is why I work here. Family Video is not only good to their customers, but they are also good to their employees. I have two kids and they are always very understanding and flexible with my work schedule. We also provide a free kids movie section in our store which we add new movies too on a monthly basis.”
With nearly 800 locations across the Midwest, Family Video is the largest movie rental chain in the U.S., yet it is not a franchise. Based out of Springfield, Ill., Family Video is a privately owned and operated company that was started by Charlie Hoogland, chief executive officer of the company with sons Keith and Eric Hoogland as president and vice president.
“Currently, I would say that Netflix is our biggest competition,” said James Shank, Family Video Manager and MSU alumnus. “Netflix was the first to do mail order, but as that market is drying up because of high expenses, they are now moving into the streaming market. But I believe that there will always be a market for the old brick and mortar style movie rental stores because many people still want that face to face interaction that those other online businesses can’t provide.”
While movie rental chains such as Blockbuster’s are closing stores, Family Video continues to open in new locations.
“Family Video is doing very well in comparison to its competition and that is why we are one of the few movie rental chains left,” said Shank. “As we keep expanding, other places can’t match our low prices and friendly customer service.”
Family Video is upgrading many of stores to include Marco’s Pizza. The company already purchased 250 franchise rights to open Marco’s Pizza in their stores.
“The idea is to be able to offer the convenience of pizza and a movie to our customers,” said Shank.