LAKE WORTH, Fla. - While video stores across the United States stand like mausoleums, the story is still playing out for store owner Al VanDuser at The Video Shop.
“Never a day have I thought that I needed to go to work, it's always been, you know, 'let's go see some of the regular customers that have been coming in for years,' ” he said.
For 30 years, the store on Military Trail near 10th Avenue has only closed for two days during hurricanes. It’s a three-generation family business. Customers know VanDuser’s mother, Helen West, as “Mom.”
“I’m everybody’s video mom,” she smiles.
Customers have become regulars. Regulars have become friends. VanDuser estimates ten couples have met at the store and later married.
With constant effort to watch movies in theaters and in the store, VanDuser has kept on top of the thousands of changing video titles on his shelves. He has learned the preferences of many of his customers, and now has the ability to suggest titles the individuals will enjoy.
As the movie titles have come and gone, the movie prices haven’t changed much. When the business opened in 1983, it was $2.50 for a two-night rental. Now, the price is $3.50 for a two-night rental. The computer that tracks the inventory is 28-years-old.
Ivan Mendoza has been coming to the store for ten years. “I'm in shock that they're closing, we're going to miss them,” he said.
Now, the business has reached its credits.
“You know, you got to compete with Red Box and bootlegs and everything else. It's, there's been a lot of changes, I've rock and rolled with everything,” VanDuser said.
The hardest part for the family will be leaving behind the daily interaction with customers.
“I sit and I think, you know, on a regular basis, how many people that I've actually fallen in love with,” VanDuser said.
West believes the store has created a special place in the hearts of its customers.
“People, they’ll remember. They’ll remember,” she said.
The inventory of the store is being sold at a discount until the building is auctioned off on September 4th at 10 a.m. It is 4,600 square feet and the bidding will start at $390,000, according to VanDuser.