By Stephanie Choate
August 29th, 2013
Williston’s only video rental store and one of the last in the Champlain Valley, Passport Video, is closing its doors.
Owner Rick Ransom is set to close the store when its current lease runs out Sept. 30, after 27 years in the rental business.
Ransom said that while business is steady now, he didn’t want to sign another five-year lease and see it go downhill.
“I’m a happy guy,” he said. “I don’t want to be struggling and have customers come in and see my sour face.”
Additionally, the industry has changed drastically.
“As people grow older, and retire, and move away and their children go to college and graduate and get married, we’re not replacing those families,” he said. “The industry has changed to the point where there’s not enough replacement of customers.”
Increasingly, young families—as well as not-so-young renters—are turning to digital streaming to watch their movies.
One by one, local rental stores have gone out of business. Hundreds of Blockbusters across the country have shuttered since 2012. Nationwide, video rental establishments dropped roughly by half between 2007 and 2011, according to market research firm IBIS World, which calls it a “dying industry.”
Ransom said he made peace with the industry changes long ago.
“I feel very good,” he said. “I already miss the business because the business has changed so much. I already accepted the changes.”
Ransom will continue to rent out movies until Sept. 23, “The Great Gatsby” being his last big new release. From now to Sept. 30, Ransom’s collection will be on sale, ranging from $2 – $10. After that, he has a private buyer lined up for whatever isn’t sold.
“I wanted the customers to have the first crack,” he said.
Ransom plans to move to Old Orchard Beach, Me.—into a condo nine-tenths of a mile from the beach with his girlfriend. He has a job lined up with Infrared Analyzers, a preventative maintenance company he has worked with on and off since 2001.
“I’m going to recharge the batteries and see what happens in the spring,” he said.
The store has been a fixture in Williston for years. Mike Bergin bought it in 1989, when it was located in Taft Corners Shopping Plaza, changing the name to Passport Video. Ransom began working with him in the early 90s, and bought the store in 2011.
More than anything, Ransom said he will miss the community surrounding Passport Video.
“I’m going to miss the customers the most,” he said. “I got to know them.”
He said he’ll also miss the community projects and events he’s been involved with over the years, including Connecting Youth, the Big Basket Raffle, Whitcomb’s Land of Pumpkins weigh-off, Champlain Valley Union High girls hockey, Williston Little League and more.
“I would like to thank everyone for being a customer, a friend and someone just to chat with over the last 25 years. It has been an honor and a fun experience serving this community. I appreciate you all and will miss you,”Ransom said.
Ransom said a lot of his loyal customers have been sad to hear the news, though not necessarily surprised.
“There have been a lot of people with pouty lips coming in,” he said.
Passport Video is located at 400 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 230.