Business

Video wars

"After eight years in Oak Harbor, Quality Video closed its doors this week, following the demise of Crazy Mike’s Video, Carousel and Video West.About a mile away, Blockbuster Video recently opened its second video rental store in the city, next to the new Albertson’s store.Andrea Groberg, the former manager of Quality Video, sees a pattern. And she doesn’t like it.As Groberg sees it, big, faceless corporate stores are invading Oak Harbor and driving out small businesses and family stores. The video stores, she said, are just the first victims.According to Groberg, Quality Video did well in the city until Blockbuster moved in and lured away thousands of dollars worth of business a week.Groberg said Blockbuster uses its huge buying power to get the advantage over smaller businesses. While Quality and most smaller video stores pay an average of $70 a copy for new releases, she said Blockbuster has made deals with Hollywood movie companies to get copies for only $2 each.The corporation also gets movies earlier than is available to anyone else. For example, Groberg said the local Blockbuster had the Blair Witch Project on shelves two days before the release date.“Blockbuster is powerful enough to push Hollywood to put out merchandise earlier,” she said.While there were once several Quality Video stores throughout the Puget Sound region, she said there are now only two left — both in areas without Blockbusters. In fact, Groberg said the owner of Quality, Bob Lambard, has joined one of several anti-trust lawsuits that have bveen levelled against Blockbuster.The managers at both Oak Harbor Blockbuster stores declined to comment. Customer service agents at the corporate headquarters also declined to comment, stating that it was company policy. The company’s media relations person could not be reached for comment."

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