Business

Video store closure ends an era

One of Oak Harbor’s most profligate business people is closing her last store and retiring to a quiet life of caring for the menagerie at home.

“I’ve got 35 to 40 llamas, 21 miniature horses, two birds and an old man to feed,” said Becky Myers with the customary laughter ringing in her voice.

This is the last weekend for Top of the Hill Video 2, an Oak Harbor tradition on Midway Boulevard since 1986.

When the going-out-of-business sale started, the store had 29,000 movies on DVD and VHS to clear out. Now they’re down to about a thousand and Myers expects to shut the door for good on Monday. Whatever videos are left will be sold elsewhere and the money given to Relay for Life.

At 65, Myers said it’s time to quit her life as a businesswoman. She’s been phasing out for several years now. Myers’ Mini-Mart, which she and her husband Bill opened in 1974, was closed in 2002, along with the Top of the Hill Video 1. “This is what you call downsizing,” she said.

The Myers’ have owned real estate near the main Navy gate on Ault Field Road for decades and Becky was always coming up with new ideas for businesses for there and elsewhere.

Long-time Oak Harbor residents will remember Ben’s Drive-In, which Becky bought and renamed Crippled Chicken Drive-In, with a logo featuring a chicken with a broken leg. The Meyers’ also had Bill’s Fruit Stand, Wild Bill’s Barbecue and High Tech Electronics, among others, and even the Timberline Motel in Concrete, about two-hours east on Highway 20.

Becky and Bill both came to Oak Harbor through the Navy. When they married he didn’t want her to work so she quit her job. Between them, they had seven kids. Later when they decided it was time for her to return to work she had no desire to work for someone else so they went into business.

“We were both so full of life we had to do something,” Becky said. Bill never quit his day job, retiring from two careers, one with the Navy and one as a civil service air traffic controller at the base. But he always helped Becky with her businesses.

Just thinking about running all those businesses, raising kids and keeping a regular job would exhaust most people, and Becky said people still react incredulously to their life story. “Bill tells the stories and I say ‘nobody’s ever going to believe you’,” she laughed. “I still have lots of ideas but not the energy to do it.”

Becky said most of the business ideas were hers but it took Bill’s help to make them happen. “I’d tell him what I wanted to do and he’d figure out a way to do it,” she said. “He was probably the brains of the outfit.”

A lot of people have worked in the Myers’ businesses through the years, and Becky is saddened by the changes caused by the passing of time. “A lot of our employees are passing on now,” she said. “It’s really sad. We all enjoyed each other, we were family, but times have changed.”

Becky’s last employee is Cindy Dausey who has worked at Top of the Hill Video 2 for more than 12 years. “She’s just so sad because she won’t have a job. She’s such a loyal worker, somebody will have her,” Becky said.

Dausey admitted to being sad, but added that many others are feeling the same emotion. Old customers stop by the story to say goodbye or pick up some one dollar videos.

“The say ‘oh, I’m so sorry,’” Dausey said. “And I say, ‘me too.’ I liked the people.” The people liked Dausey as well as the store’s large collection of classics, including a large John Wayne film library. Those were the first to go during the closeout sale.

Top of the Hill Video 2 was the last independent video store in Oak Harbor, which has two large Blockbuster outlets plus major grocery stores that rent videos, as well as Wal-Mart and Kmart that sell videos.

Becky Myers said her favorite recent move is Cinderalla Man which she viewed this week. “Now that’s a good movie,” she said. “I went to Kmart and got it!”

With all the local competition, plus movies purchased directly from cable and satellite, Myers says independent video stores have no future. She figures she’ll be buying most of her movies at her Silver Lake home from DirecTV.

“Some people were trying to buy my store, trying to live off it, but I said ‘you can’t do that’,” she said. “It would be fair to me but not to you.” Rather than take their money, she just closed the store.

The store’s closure will mark the end of a business era for Oak Harbor.

“All I’ll have is my llamas and miniature horses,” Myers said. “And I’d like to sell some of them, too.” But she plans to keep the old man.

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