In a time when the Internet is bringing the latest movies straight into your home, Garry and Penny Seguin say there is still an appetite for real world video rentals.
The Seguins are the owners of Black Panther Video, which recently opened in Penticton at 3547 Skaha Lake Road.
“We’re going into our fifth month now,” said Garry Seguin. Black Panther, he said, has been in business since 1985, and they just moved the operation to Penticton from a 5,000-square-foot store in Oliver.
“Before that we had a store in Osoyoos for three years,” said Garry. “We just stayed out of the big boys’ playing field. There isn’t a mom and pop store out there that could have competed with Blockbuster and Rogers.”
Faced with competition from iTunes, Netflix and other online sources, the chain video stores have closed shop in Penticton, but Penny said there are still customers who aren’t interested in having to download their evening entertainment.
“There are still a lot of people that want to hold the box in their hand and read about it and pick and choose the current movies that are available,” she said. Part of the secret, she continued, is personal service — they like to get out on the floor and chat with the customers. They know the stock, she explained, so if a customer isn’t sure of the name of a movie, can usually find it from a description.
“Once I got them through the door, they said wow, this is a real video store,” said Garry, adding that business has been increasing since they opened their doors in Penticton.
In the summer season, Garry said tourist traffic is accounting for about 10 per cent of their business, but a bigger factor in keeping the operation profitable is their trades program.
Customers can bring in an old movie, find one they want in the 300 movies in the trade program and trade them for $2.
“That’s cheaper than renting,” said Garry. “That part of the business is at least 25 to 30 per cent of my video store. In money terms, that is huge.”
Despite the name of the store, Black Panther doesn’t stock X-rated movies. Garry said their catalogue is family-friendly, ranging from classics to new releases in DVD, Blu-Ray and even 3D.
“We have 10,000 movies to choose from,” said Penny. “Unlike chain stores where they get rid of all their stock, we still have the old movies that people want to see.
“We positively think there is still a business to be had.”