Lights off for Salzer’s video at Ventura; record store to stay

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Between video streaming services and COVID-19, Salzer’s Video hasn’t had much luck.

Salzer’s video is expected to end in the coming weeks. The Ventura store, which has been around for about 41 years, began liquidation on Friday.

The store made the announcement Wednesday on Facebook.

“I see a lot of dismay and sadness that the store is closing,” said co-owner Brandon Salzer. “People are shocked, but these are the same people who haven’t rented for five or ten years.”

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Salzer is co-owner of Salzer’s Video and Salzer’s Records with his mother Nancy Salzer. The record store, which is across the street, will remain open.

Brandon Salzer’s father Jim Salzer, who died in March 2020 at the age of 78, was the original owner of both stores.

Brandon Salzer said there were around 20,000 DVDs and Blu-ray discs for sale, which workers cut back on Thursday. This weekend all items are $ 5 each. Next week they’ll be two for $ 5.

‘One of the first’

The store was primarily a video rental business. Jim Salzer moved the store to its current location in 1985, but it originally opened in a former gas station five years earlier.

At the time, the store at 5801 Valentine Road claimed to be the country’s first video hypermarket.

“That’s pretty accurate, but there may have been others,” said Brandon Salzer. “We were definitely one of the first two-story stand-alone video stores. There was a lot of press back then.”

Brandon Salzer said the challenges of competing with streaming services like Netflix or HBO Max are tough.

“People can bring it right into their homes,” he said. “For a long time, we could find a niche. We could find things that you couldn’t broadcast.”

On Friday, a yellow sign in front of the store read “all DVDs and Blueray $ 5”. It was alongside a “store closing clearance sale” flyer that promised more discounts the following week with the possibility of a third weekend with even bigger discounts.

Nearly 40 people stood outside the video store minutes before it opened at 11 a.m.

Trevor Anderson, 41, of Oak View, and Alvaro Valadez, 32, of Oxnard were the first two customers in line and entered after waiting about 45 minutes. They didn’t know each other but both were looking for hard-to-find horror movies.

About 30 minutes into his shopping start with a basket full of horror titles like “Pet Sematary,” “Puppet Master,” and “Night of the Demons,” Valadez said he was in no rush and that he was trying to get whatever he wanted.

“Maybe I’ll come back,” Valadez said with a laugh.

Camarillo employee Ashley Romo, 21, watched the stream of customers rush in. They rushed to the shelves on both floors to check the inventory of classics, comedies, mysteries and martial arts.

Tatum Martin, left, and Justin Morter, both of Ventura, shop for films on Salzer's Video on Friday, October 1, 2021 as the store begins to close in the coming weeks.  The record store will remain open.

“I’m obviously melancholy because we’ve been here 40 years and it’s a staple in the community, but there are better things to come,” said Romo, who has worked at the video store for two years and now works. also at the record store. . “It’s still progressing.”

She agreed with the owner on the causes of the disappearance of the store.

“When all the movie theaters closed, everyone just found different ways to watch a movie that didn’t involve leaving your house,” Romo said.

Ventura customer Justin Shelton, 49, said it was surprising to see the parking lot full. He walked around with “Superman 2” and hard-to-find concert videos from Mötley Crüe, Circle Jerks and KISS. Shelton said he bought a lifetime membership card in the early 1980s for $ 18.

“They were actually charging for memberships back then,” said Shelton, who happily paid him. “It really was the only place to go for videos other than Blockbuster, but it didn’t really happen until the late ’80s.”

Shelton said he was sad the store was closing.

“Streaming won,” Shelton said. “Once Blockbuster is gone and they haven’t kept pace, it’s hard for a place to stay open like this.”

Oxnard resident Jackie Torres, 21, purchased a Hogwarts ‘Harry Potter’ cardboard castle wall mural as she looked at the inventory. She wasn’t looking forward to the store closing.

“I think it’s pretty sad because it’s the closest thing we have to a blockbuster,” Torres said. “It’s been there for so long… since I was born.”

Jose Medina, 21, of Oxnard held cardboard images of “The Godfather” and “Natural Born Killers” in his hands and said he would miss the “comforts” of the store.

“It’s not like Netflix where you just watch it.… I like having physical copies,” said Medina, who hasn’t rented movies from the store. “A lot of people might gather around (the store) like, ‘Hey, did you see that movie? Have you seen this movie? “You can just talk about the topic.”

Containment keeps customers away

Brandon Salzer said the store was charging special rental prices to compete with streaming during the lockdown, but there was another more difficult hurdle.

“It wasn’t just streaming that killed the video store, it was COVID,” Brandon Salzer said.

He said the lockdown prompted his regular customers to stream.

The owner said the store had a two-month closure that began in March 2020 and when they reopened with COVID-19 protocols, the hours were reduced to the current schedule of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“And COVID has also affected the theatrical release schedule. If there is nothing in the theater, there is nothing coming for the video store,” he said.

In the end, running the store became too expensive.

“We did our best and saw it as community service,” said Brandon Salzer. “It was more of a non-profit library during this time.”

He and his mother will cling to the building. They had hoped to go straight from video to another use, but it was too difficult.

They have other ideas for the space involving a partner and a review process. He refused to say more.

“It’s not for sale. It’s not for rent,” said Brandon Salzer. “We’re definitely going to use it for something.”

He said four employees worked at the video store. Two have been cross-trained to work on both recording and video sites and will stay while two were made redundant with severance pay.

Brandon Salzer said there were still small video stores “here and there” in Ventura County, but nothing like it.

“Our competition was really somewhere between Hollywood Video and Blockbuster Video, and they’ve been gone for over a decade,” he said.

Brandon Salzer said he really enjoys running the store, especially when it is running well.

“I am truly grateful to the employees and customers who held on to the end,” he said. “I’m sorry for letting them down even though I understand there’s not much I can do. I’ve never had to close a store. There is an emotional component to that. C is like being part of the family. ”

Wes Woods II covers West County for the Ventura County Star. Contact him at [email protected], 805-437-0262 or twitter.com/JournoWes.



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