Family Video, the suburban Chicago-based video rental chain that outlasted Blockbuster, VHS tapes and the “be kind rewind” mantra, is closing its stores and calling it quits after 42 years.
The chain, which survived the advent of online video by locating its bricks-and-mortar stores and DVD rental offerings in small towns across the Midwest, announced Monday that its business had fallen victim to the pandemic.
“The impact of COVID-19, not only in foot traffic but also in the lack of movie releases, pushed us to the end of an era,” said Keith Hoogland, CEO of Highland Ventures, the Glenview-based owner of Family Video, in an open letter posted on its website Monday.
Hoogland did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Family Video is closing its remaining 250 stores, including 30 in Illinois, and liquidating its inventory, including DVDs, candy, popcorn, CBD products and even the shelves.
Founded in 1978, Family Video went from renting Betamax tapes to VHS to DVDs over the years, and grew to an 800-store chain at its zenith. The company, which owns most of its retail real estate, evolved the business model, partnering with Marco’s Pizza in 2015 to give customers another reason to venture out for their video entertainment.
But video rental sales have been declining for years as consumers turned to online streaming services such as Netflix. That evolution marked the death knell for larger competitors such as Blockbuster, which announced it was closing its corporate-owned stores in 2013.
Family Video has been shrinking in recent years as well, but still had a retail footprint spanning 17 mostly Midwestern states.
Its exit leaves Redbox as one of the few alternatives for those who can’t let go of the hands-on experience. Founded in 2002 by hamburger giant McDonald’s as a vehicle to drive traffic to its restaurants, Redbox still has more than 41,000 of its ubiquitous video rental kiosks scattered at supermarkets and retail locations across the country.