Family Video shuts down hundreds of stores due to COVID-19 but Stateline residents happy to see local store survive

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — With the advent of streaming services and move vending machines, COVID-19 seems to be the nail in the coffin for many brick and mortar video stores. Family Video announced this month that nearly 200 Midwest stores will close their doors for good.

However, some Stateline film enthusiasts aren’t ready to give up their final rental movie nights. Many are greeted by nostalgia from the moment they walk into a video store.

“Yeah, coming in, looking at the movies, looking at the games, gumball machines, you know different things that kids especially nowadays have never been in video stores cause there’s not many left,” explained Christina Wallenberge, a multistore manager for Loves Park and Roscoe.

Family Video recently announced it will close 160 of its 550 stores nationwide. Locally, two are closing in Janesville, two in Beloit, and one in Roscoe.

Although the pandemic played a major role in the shutdowns, online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu also made an impact. Loves Park and Roscoe Store Manager Christina Wallenberge says the store offers something you can’t get online.

“I feel like with streaming and Redbox there’s no customer service person to help you and we have a lot of regulars come in and say ‘whats a good movie this week?’ So, they like feedback and input from us employees,” Wallenberge added.

Regular customers say the service and in-person interactions is what keeps them coming back.

“I talk to her every time I come in here we have a good relationship and I have a good relationship with everybody I run into at any of the family videos,” said Jesse Wandley.

“I see a buddy of mine I hardly see no more that comes up. We seem to run into each other all the time,” said another customer, Robert Peavy.

Longtime customers are relived to hear locations in Loves Park and Belvidere will remain open.

“That would break my heart [if they went out of business.] I don’t know where I would go to rent a movie.” said Peavy.

The Roscoe location has begun its liquidation sale with select items at 25% off.

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