Video rental store poised to close after struggle with streaming

BERKELEY, California -- Netflix stock continues to climb, while one of the last video rental businesses in California prepares to close.

"They would import films to show at all those art house theatres," said Andy Katz, as he proudly showed off his collection of Criterion films, on one of the many video racks at Five Star Video on Solano Avenue in Berkeley. But Sunday, June 17th, is the last day to rent videos from Katz.

He's closing after 30 years in business.

"Our customer base is aging. Younger people are not adopting this method," he said.

Katz survived the transition from VHS to DVD and then to Blu-ray, but the transition to online streaming services, which you can't sell in a store, proved to be too much.

"It is very convenient, no question about it. You could be a few keystrokes or clicks away. But, you lose the adventure of coming to a video store," said Katz.

Katz says he's still turning a small profit, but his lease is coming up in July and he says it was just time to close up shop after a liquidation sale.

Rico DiGiorgio spends his evenings behind the counter at Video Room, the only video rental business in Oakland, California that could be found. He knew every customer who came into the store, and their families. "I try to remember everyone's name."

"Video stores are just an endangered species," said Rico, who enjoys his job, but is not delusional about the power of online streaming and the fate of video rental stores. "We're not doing terrible, but we're not doing great. We're barely breaking even."

Rico says in order to survive, they need customers who are willing to pay a little extra for customer service.
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