Fading Media: Video rental store closing in Houghton

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette The Houghton Family Video location is closing Monday.

HOUGHTON — The Family Video in Houghton is closing Monday.

Highland Services, Family Video’s parent company, had been looking to lease or sell the building, said Doug Seefeldt, district manager in Wausau, Wisconsin.

A financial services company purchased the Houghton location, Seefeldt said.

“He wanted the entire building, so unfortunately we weren’t able to stay there,” he said.

The building had been advertised for a couple of months prior to being purchased, said assistant manager Julie Stark.

Employees were told on Jan. 25 the store was closing, she said.

“They’d originally told us that they were just looking to lease part of the store,” she said. “We didn’t actually know they were trying to sell the building until the building sold.”

Before the purchase, Family Video had explored an arrangement similar to other branches, where another business would take over part of the building, Seefeldt said. Partners elsewhere include sellers of pizza and prepaid phones.

“When we built our stores, must of them were built with VHS in mind,” he said. “They took up a lot more space. They were bulkier.”

A message seeking comment was not returned Monday from San Stelp, president of Family Video’s real estate division.

Family Video has more than 700 locations in 19 states and Canada, according to its website.

Seefeldt said the owner of the financial company reached out to Family Video and said the company would be interested in interviewing employees of the Houghton Family Video store for positions.

“We have great employees,” Seefeldt said. “They always work hard. They do a good job with customers, so that’s a different opportunity for people.”

Of Stark’s three jobs, Family Video is her favorite, she said. But it’s also sad for customers, who will be without a dedicated video store and a place to rent games.

“(Our manager) said that there were people who heard the news and were following her around the store literally crying because we were closing,” she said. “I think it’s kind of a detriment to the community. It’s really unfortunate not just for us who work here because we’re out of a job, but for everyone around here.”