The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News October 27, 2006

Campus Video Announces Closing: Cites Competition
Remaining Sign: This sign advertising Campus Video may comedown next spring if the store closes.

With competitive forces on the rise, keeping a movie rental business afloat these days is no easy task. Such is the case for Chuck Annable, owner of Campus Video — he plans to let the store’s lease expire in May 2007 in anticipation of a continued downward trend in profits.

If Campus Video closes, it would end its over twenty-two year existence as a part of the Oberlin community. For the store to continue, a buyer would have to purchase it or an alternative, more affordable space would have to become available for its relocation.

“One way to save it is to make it part of another store, but having it stand alone wouldn’t work,” said Annable, who does not anticipate that either a buyer or an alternative space will appear between now and May 31.

“If someone wants to come and buy it, they can. This is the best spot in town—I just don’t know if anyone would want to buy it,” Annable said.

A culmination of forces has led to a downturn in revenues for Campus Video in the past six years, says Annable.

“For one thing, since 9/11, things have been harder for every business in town,” he said. “And the popularity of Netflix has also increased. It’s cheap and convenient; everybody is doing it.”

Illegal downloading of movies has also increased in the past three to four years, and the transition from the use of VHS tapes to DVD’s has had a large effect. Besides the fact that Netflix has become increasingly popular since its founding in 1999, DVD’s are much cheaper than VHS tapes: at Wal-Mart, for instance, they cost as little as $5. It has also become increasingly more affordable for libraries to purchase entire DVD collections.

“The Oberlin Public Library has about 129,000 books and 111,000 videos taken out each year; we rent about 55,000 videos per year and have about 13,000 videos at any given time,” Annable said.

Annable has responded to these pressures by reducing spending over the years in attempts to keep profits relatively stable.

“We would spend about $44,000 per year on videos in the beginning, but at this point we’ve squeezed it down to $13,000 per year. But I don’t think we can squeeze it anymore,” Annable said.

Raising rental or late fees also does not seem to be a viable option, especially with the availability of so many low-cost options.

Campus Video employs five people, two of whom are College students. The store boasts one of the most extensive foreign film collections in Ohio, a fair amount of anime and the only adult movie selection in Oberlin.

One of Campus Video’s employees, Grant Huling, OC ’07, anticipates that its closing will be a loss for Oberlin students and the wider community.

“I wouldn’t have become cinematically literate without Campus Video and its library,” he said. “The cultural pulse of our town will weaken on the day it leaves.”

Before his ownership of Campus Video, Annable worked as a nursery inspector for the state. He originally switched to work at Campus Video in order to maintain a flexible schedule to be a stay-at-home dad.

After the video store closes, he may consider returning to his original career in horticulture.


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