Townline Video Plus to stop renting in January

By Christine Simmonds | Nov 05, 2019
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Betsy Piper, owner of Townline Video Plus in Warren, shows off one of the store's new videos available to rent.

Warren — Townline Video Plus in Warren will no longer be renting videos starting January of 2020.

Besty Piper, owner of the shop, stated that profit from video rentals had been steadily declining for the past several years. Last year the store only made $30,000 in video rental revenue, so the business cannot stay alive.

Her store is supposed to have a 28-day lead time on new videos before they are released on Netflix and Redbox. However, even with the lead time HBO has released some new films before then, and young people are increasingly finding ways to pirate new movies online without having to pay for them.

Piper’s concern for the loss of the video rentals is her local customers, who have no internet, no credit cards, and no cable. Many rural areas in the Midcoast are not serviced by any internet providers.

Piper first purchased the business in 1988 as a video rental store in the space next to the current location. She rented out VHS tapes at that time. In 2001, Piper switched to DVDs.

“With no gas for sale, people needed a reason to stop here. Video rentals were the reason,” Piper stated.

Two years ago the store acquired a license to sell liquor as another means of increasing business. Before that, Piper became an authorized Chester Fried Chicken location.

Piper stated she knew that her video rental business was working on borrowed time, though. The shared revenue system she used to use, Tempest Tech, had gone bankrupt. Another company was available with the same product for her store to continue renting movies, but it was too expensive to justify with not much profit.

Currently Townline Video Plus is selling off their previously viewed DVDs for $2.99. Piper says she is trying to figure out the next big thing for her company.

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