After 25 years, Video Library — one of the last movie rental businesses in Philadelphia — is closing.
Owner David Fellner said he decided in October to shutter the Germantown Avenue "institution." He'll keep the doors open until the last piece of inventory is sold or he finds a new tenant for the 2,500 square-foot space.
He expects one or the other to happen by spring.
"It's not profitable enough. It's never been profitable really," said Fellner, who also owns the building at 7141 Germantown Ave. "It was kind of a community service kind thing."
Fellner took over the business nearly a decade ago. As alternative rental models like Netflix and Redbox became the norm, the store's profit margins took a decided hit.
Eventually, there simply weren't enough people stopping in to cover the cost of doing business.
Recently, a good Saturday night meant 50 or 60 renters, said Fellner. When he first started running the business, that total was closer to 150.
The shop is no longer renting videos, just selling its stock.
Fellner said his choice to keep the shop open as long as it has been was more about his personal investment in the place than making money. He liked the business and didn't want to see a prominent storefront go dark.
These days, though, Fellner admits he's less motivated to fight for the failing business.
"I'm 68 years old. If I were 25, it'd still be open," said Fellner, who recently decided to sell off all of his considerable real estate holdings along Germantown Avenue.
Still, the whole thing still makes him a little sick.
Manager Bill Mercer is also a bit saddened by the move. He's worked on and off at Video Library since 1995.
"I will miss this in the sense of the interaction of the community," said Mercer. "I've watched some of these people grow up."
He's not surprised though that Fellner is calling it quits. He saw that the end was near some time ago.
"People say they'll miss it, but those are the same people that I don't see that often," said Mercer.