The Bass Library DVD collection may soon be the only game in town.
By May 17, the Blockbuster video store on Chapel Street will close as its lease agreement runs out, a Blockbuster employee confirmed Sunday. The company is currently searching for a new location in New Haven, though no plans have been finalized, the employee said. But Blockbuster’s demise is part of a larger trend: Having to compete with such newly popular online and mail services such as Netflix and iTunes, video rental stores across the country have been closing, leaving many financial experts to believe that these stores may become obsolete.
Although the employee did not expound upon the store’s financial situation, recent trends in the video rental industry indicate that declining revenues are the root of the problem. In 2008, the Blockbuster chain closed 169 stores in the United States, adding onto the 289 American stores that it closed in 2007. Additionally, over the past year the company’s stock price has plummeted by 75 percent.
If Blockbuster, currently just a block from Old Campus, does not find a new location nearby, there will no longer be any video rental stores within walking distance for students. The next closest store, the Hollywood Video adjacent to the Shaw’s supermarket on Whalley Avenue closed earlier this year. Its shelves, usually filled with DVD cases, were instead barren Sunday, a note on the door announcing to the store’s former customers that the branch had shut its doors.
Although the video rental industry may be hurting, the same cannot be said for the movie theater industry. Two employees at Criterion Cinemas, located on Temple Street, said the business has seen a boom recently, as a result of the poor economy.
“I was just talking to my manager today, and he said that the four things that people consume in a poor economy are soup, chocolate, alcohol and movies,” Leo Beta Jr., an employee at Criterion, said.
“People aren’t going on vacation,” Shavon Moore, another employee, added. “They’re going here instead. It’s a way for them to get away without even going anywhere.”
Moore’s sentiment was echoed by a handful of students interviewed on Sunday, many of whom mentioned that the easiest way to “get away” is through sites such as Netflix.
“Once a month, my friends and I get movies,” Corey Rapala ’12 said. “So Blockbuster moving would definitely affect us. One of us would probably get a Netflix account because it seems like the easiest option.”
The last day to rent movies at the Blockbuster on Chapel Street will be May 10. All rentals will be due back by May 17.