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F-M's last two video rental stores go out of business

The Premiere Video space at 1115 9th St. E. in West Fargo is now empty and for sale.David Samson / The Forum1 / 3
A shopper scans the nearly bare shelves for videos to buy Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, at the Fargo Cash Wise Video store which is closing. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 3
The Premiere Video location at 1115 9th St. E. in West Fargo is now closed.David Samson / The Forum3 / 3

FARGO—It's a wrap for the community's last remaining video rental stores.

West Fargo's Premiere Video, 1115 9th St. E., stopped renting to customers Dec. 10 and finished selling off its inventory by Dec. 18, said Brenda Ackerman, operations analyst for St. Cloud-based parent corporation United Entertainment Corp.

Fargo's last remaining rental store, Cash Wise Video, 1401 33rd St. S., stopped renting on Saturday, Dec. 31, and is now open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until its remaining inventory is sold off in the coming days.

A couple of decades ago, during the "heyday" of video rentals in the mid- to late-1990s, Ackerman said there were four video stores within a mile of a Premiere Video in Fargo. A copy of the Fargo-Moorhead phone book from 2000 listed 18 video rental stores in the community.

Premiere Video had about 25 locations in the Midwest back then, she said, including stores in Moorhead, West Fargo and Fargo. The only one still in business is in Alexandria, Minn.

"Everything is digital now and downloads," Ackerman said about the decision to close the West Fargo store. "They can get their movies from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, and everything's instant, now, online."

Lower demand

The owner of Cash Wise Foods, St. Cloud-based Coborn's Inc., began to close video departments in some of its grocery stores a few years ago as rental demand "was no longer present," said company spokesman Kevin Hurd.

That happened last year at the Moorhead Cash Wise store, 3300 Highway 10 E., when the video department closed and the space was used to expand a Cash Wise Liquors store.

But Fargo's Cash Wise Video hung on until Dec. 31, when Coborn's closed all remaining video departments in its stores across the Midwest.

While the sales performance of video rentals varied in each local store and market, Hurd said the company has seen double-digit decreases in its rental business in recent years, "probably at the advent of Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Video."

Support for software the company used to manage its rental information also ended on Dec. 31, he said, further complicating trying to keep the doors open.

"We didn't have software that was supported to run the video departments anymore," Hurd said.

Video rental stores haven't had to only worry about the rise of streaming video options, including Netflix, which had about 86.7 million subscribers globally by the third quarter of 2016.

Other rental options, including self-serve kiosks like Redbox, have popped up in place of video rental businesses and now are a common sight in many entrances to supermarkets or big-box stores.

Some of Coborn's grocery stores have kiosks like this already, according to Hurd, and more could be added to other Cash Wise stores.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson is the Features Editor for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He previously wrote for The Forum and the Grand Forks Herald.

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