MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While video stores across the country have faded away, one is still challenging the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
At Video Universe in Robbinsdale, there are over 56,000 selections on Blu-ray, DVD and even VHS.
It is one of the last independently-owned video stores in the entire country — and it is still going strong.
“It’s almost like it’s more of a museum than a store,” said owner Scott Prost. “You can’t find this stuff anywhere.”
As times change, Scott plans on keeping the credits rolling for as long as he can.
“We can’t get enough movie posters from our distributors because there aren’t enough video stores left to warrant the printing on the posters,” Scott said.
So his advertising comes in the form of nostalgia. Video Universe opened in 1985, just before video rentals came into their prime.
Scott had a front-row seat as VHS switched to DVD, and DVD gave way to Blu-ray. But as Redbox, Netflix, Hulu and others took down Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video, they could not take down his store.
“We’ve been here so long that people that grew up coming here now bring their kids here, which is probably going to be the last generation of people to see something like this,” Scott said.
To keep from going the way of the typewriter repairman, Scott and his long-time manager, Troy Rachey, doubled-down.
“Your average Blockbuster only had 5,000 titles. And I’m saying we have 56,000,” Troy said.
While bigger stores were closing, Scott and Troy were buying. They frequented going-out-of-business sales and bought movies of all genres and all formats.
“A lot of the VHS stuff that we have here,” Scott said. “A lot of this stuff has never been released on DVD.”
Troy gets a kick out of when people ask him what he does for a living.
“They really can’t believe it. ‘There’s a video store left?’ That’s what I get all the time,” Troy said. “Not many people can say they have worked at one place for 24 years, but I can.”
Troy started working at Video Universe when he was 15. He graduated from high school and college, yet never left. He brought the first DVD resurfacing machine to the store.
But what he is really proud of is that while the movies are nostalgic, so are the deals.
“It’s still rent one, get one free Sunday through Thursday,” Troy said.
The vintage selection keeps customers coming back, and people who prefer to walk inside rather than hop online.
“This is pretty much my best bet. There’s like a 99-percent chance they have it, what I’m looking for, here,” said customer Andrew Nystrom.
From a galaxy far, far away, to an ocean where you need a bigger boat, Scott could win an Oscar playing the role of the video store owner who just can’t let go.
“I’m a big believer in serendipity. You just let things play out,” Scott said. “There are not many places left for people to browse anymore, where you can spend some time and slow it down a little bit.”