Two Family Video stores in Janesville, two in Beloit, one in Fort Atkinson and one in Roscoe, Illinois, are closing.
Olivia Comfort, manager of the Janesville stores at 5 S. Harmony Drive and 1950 Center Ave., said the stores will be closing Oct. 10.
Comfort said the Fort Atkinson store is closing, too. A worker at the Fort Atkinson store confirmed the store is closing but said he didn’t have a date.
On Monday in Beloit, store manager Missy Foger and district manager Brianna Carlson were packing up the store at 905 Henry Ave. Prior to the closure, the store had been selling its DVDs, games, shelving and televisions. The remaining stock will be shipped to its remaining stores in the region located in Loves Park, Illinois, and Belvidere, Illinois.
“We are stopping rentals today across town and letting people know,” Carlson said.
Foger and Carlson attributed the closures primarily to COVID-19. The store had been doing well prior to a six-week shutdown. It even had a flurry of shoppers the weekend before the March shutdown as people prepared to hunker down to shelter in place.
After the store re-opened in May, business was slow, especially with no new releases from the film industry because of COVID-19. People cooped up during the shutdown also might have gotten more into the habit of streaming movies online.
Carlson said the store received questions through the years about how it stayed in business so long as streaming became more common. Part of the reason, she said, was because Family Video has owned its stores and had no rent payments. Family Video will continue to own the buildings and will look for new businesses to rent to.
Foger said it could mean something new and exciting for Beloit.
Foger, originally from Belvidere, will be moving to work at the Belvidere store. She has worked for the company for 16 years and in Beloit for a year. She said she will miss her customers.
“You get to know everybody. You know them by name. They know my family, and I know theirs because we form those relationships with customers,” Foger said.
It’s especially difficult for Carlson, who grew up in Beloit and started working at the Liberty Avenue store when she was 18 years old after graduating from Turner High School.
“I fell in love with it and have been ever since and worked my way up and moved around to a bunch of different stores,” she said.
Carlson said customers often stop and see her at the various stores when they spot her car.
“There are people who have known me since I was 18,” Carlson said. “My customers saw me grow up.”
Despite the closure, Carlson and Foger are optimistic the right businesses will be found to bring a new chapter and new opportunities to Beloit, Janesville and Roscoe.
The Family Video at 1402 Liberty Ave. opened in 1998, and the 905 Henry Ave. store opened in 2001.