In an era when people are watching their movies through on-demand streaming services, renting from kiosks machines and playing video games online, it would seem difficult for a video rental company to continue to survive in the ever-changing home entertainment industry.
But, several years after some of the former big names in the video rental industry have fallen by the wayside such as Blockbuster and West Coast Video, Family Video, a unit of the Glenview, IL-based Hoagland Ventures is still thriving.
Where there once was 15,000 video rental shops across country, Family Video, a privately-held business, is the only chain left.
"It's been our property ownership that made the difference because we own the property where the stores are located," said Mike Kohne, director of operations for Hoagland Ventures.
Hoagland leases space in some of their video stores and in some cases will lease the entire property. In late August, the company announced it was closing its north side video rental store on 3821 Washington Rd. across from Bradford High School on Oct. 1 and would lease it to Dollar General.
Kohne said it was a company decision to lease the store because that would bring in more revenue than keeping the store as a rental shop. It still operates rental stores in Kenosha, 2931 75th St., and in Racine at 2065 Lathrop Ave. Both of those stores have Marco's Pizza restaurants.
The company currently rents to several other national and regional businesses including Pizza Hut, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Jimmy Johns and others.
Diversification has become a means for business expansion -- both inside and outside of the retail units. The Family Video stores now also sell posters, candy and cannabidiol products. "CBD has been a nice infusion of revenue," Kohne explained. "It has been a game changer."
System wide, Hoagland is venturing into veterinarian centers. It also has established some Family Vet Centers in the Midwest region where it has video rental stores.
There are no immediate plans to open a Family Vet Center in Kenosha or Racine counties, but the possibility still exists, noted Kohne.
Meanwhile, the company has been negotiating to place Shopko Optical stores in their locations. Though Shopko has closed is department stores following bankruptcy, the Shopko Optical units are still in operation.
Family Video currently has Shopko Optical operations in Stevens Point, WI and in Marshall, MN.
Shopko earlier this year said it was seeking a local stand-alone location for its 52nd Street optical operation.
Hoagland officials have not announced a Kenosha Family Video-Shopko Optical lease partnership.
However, both companies are talking. "We're talking to Shopko," Kohne confirmed.
Hoagland is expected to downsize some of its family Video stores to accommodate some lease agreements with other retailers.
"We're shrink down some stores," Kohne explained. Some of the larger 6,000 to 7,000 square foot stores may be reduced to smaller 1,500 square stores, he said.
The company has not announced changes to the two Kenosha and Racine County stores. Family Video also has a store in Zion.
The company that was established in 1946 as an appliance and supply firm later launched the Video Movie Club in 1978 in Springfield, IL. It later became Family Video, a rental and sales shop that would focus mostly in rural, suburban area and small to medium-sized cities.
As an ever-evolving company, it is resigning and regrowing itself again a bit. It is venturing into other areas and becoming more of a real estate firm.
However, one thing won't change, said Kohne. "We're not giving up on video."
The business news you need
With a weekly newsletter looking back at local history.