Family Video is closing: How did they outlive other video stores?

Video killed the radio star, but streaming killed the video store

Family Video.
Family Video. (Family Video)

It’s the end of an era: Longtime video rental chain Family Video is closing up shop.

Family Video parent company Highland Ventures announced the news on Tuesday, a mass closure that will include more than 50 locations in Michigan. It’s essentially the end of video rental stores in Michigan.

“What began as a handful of 500 square foot video rental locations, grew to 800 locations with up to 7,000 square feet of video rental and retail. Surviving 10 years longer than the big 3, Blockbuster, Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video, we are among the few that started with Beta, moved on to VHS and remained a part of the DVD & Blu-Ray Era,” reads a statement from Keith Hoogland, CEO of Highland Ventures LTD.

Hoogland said the stores are closing due to the impact of COVID-19, “not only in foot traffic but also in the lack of movie releases.” And, of course, we live in a streaming, on-demand world now.

How did Family Video last so long?

Family Video was a Midwest staple -- and very well-known in Michigan. If you live near one, or drive by one, you’ve probably wondered the same thing I have (for years) -- how are they still open?!

It seemed that Family Video somehow outlived many of its competitors, like Blockbuster, Hollywood Video and even Mammoth Video (pay homage). But how? There are a few reasons.

The ability to improvise: When video rental sales started dropping, Family Video tried something. They partnered with and brought Marco’s Pizza locations, bringing the pizza and a movie plan into their business model.

“We had 7,000 square feet of space for video here. We really don’t need that. Never did,” Hoogland said in 2013. “We just saw it as a great mesh, pizza and a movie. You can get them delivered together.”

Recently, some Family Video stores even started selling CBD products.

They owned their buildings: One of the biggest issues for Blockbuster at the end was trying to pay or renegotiate their leases when business tanked. Family Video owns the buildings they are open in. “We own all of our real estate, so all those buildings we’re in, we own those,” Hoogland said. “We’re in the real estate business.”

They owned their movies: Blockbuster and other chains had revenue sharing models with movie studios for rentals. It was less expensive up-front and allowed them to carry more copies of movies. Family Video, on the other hand, buys its movies outright -- so they keep all of the profit.

It was a great run for Family Video. If you have questions about rentals or purchases, here are some FAQs on the closing.

Here’s the list of Michigan stories:

Adrian, MI (1407 W Maumee St)

Allegan, MI (101 North Sherman St)

Alpena, MI (1132 W Chisholm St)

Battle Creek, MI (890 W Columbia Ave)

Bay City, MI (2610 Center Ave)

Berkley, MI (2571 Coolidge Hwy)

Big Rapids, MI (103 S State St)

Burton, MI (2510 S Center Rd)

Cadillac, MI (1345 N Mitchell St)

Cadillac, MI (602 N Mitchell St)

Caro, MI (744 S State Street)

Cheboygan, MI (245 Mill St)

Clio, MI (3520 W Vienna Road)

Coldwater, MI (571 E Chicago St)

Farmington Hills, MI (34420 Eight Mile Rd)

Flint, MI (5620 S Saginaw St)

Flushing, MI (1552 E Pierson Rd)

Gaylord, MI (305 S Otsego Ave)

Grand Ledge, MI (615 S Clinton St; Suite 100)

Grand Rapids, MI (1954 Fuller Ave Ne)

Grayling, MI (201 Ionia St)

Harrison Township, MI (26150 Crocker Blvd)

Holland, MI (369 136Th Ave Ste 10)

Holland, MI (536 W 17Th St)

Houghton Lake, MI (3287 W Houghton Lake Dr)

Howell, MI (846 E Grand River Rd)

Ionia, MI (488 S Dexter Street)

Jackson, MI (1111 West Ganson Street)

Jenison, MI (8413 Cottonwood Drive)

Kalamazoo, MI (3744 Gull Rd)

Kalkaska, MI (705 North Cedar St)

Kentwood, MI (5255 Eastern Ave)

Lansing, MI (2524 S Cedar St)

Livonia, MI (37405 Ann Arbor Rd)

Ludington, MI (5865 W Us 10)

Marquette, MI (1110 W Washington St)

Marshall, MI (1150 W Michigan Ave)

Menominee, MI (2305 10Th St)

Midland, MI (2601 Washington St)

Mt. Pleasant, MI (317 N Mission St)

Muskegon, MI (2472 Apple Ave)

Muskegon, MI (2669 Henry St)

Niles, MI (715 Chicago Rd)

Oscoda, MI (510 N State St)

Port Huron, MI (1002 Lapeer Ave)

Roseville, MI (29949 Utica Rd)

Saginaw, MI (6995 Gratiot Rd)

Sault Ste Marie, MI (2500 Ashmun St)

South Haven, MI (359 Broadway St)

Sterling Hts., MI (39036 Dequindre Rd)

Taylor, MI (22610 Northline Road)

Taylor, MI (21533 Ecorse Road)

Temperance, MI (8167 Lewis Ave)

Traverse City, MI (916 Us Highway 31 South)

Traverse City, MI (1288 W South Airport Rd)

Warren, MI (30950 Dequindre Rd)

Westland, MI (146 S Venoy Rd)

Wyoming, MI (1263 Burton Sw)

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.