Business

Biz Buzz: It’s curtains for Hollywood Video store in SLO

San Luis Obispo’s Hollywood Video store in the University Square shopping center on Foothill Boulevard is closing, the result of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed last month by parent company Movie Gallery Inc.

The company is closing at least 760 stores nationwide — about a third of its total — as it attempts to restructure its debt, according to the firm’s Web site.

Hollywood Video stores in Paso Robles, Los Osos, Arroyo Grande and Atascadero remain open. Movie Gallery also owns Game Crazy stores, one of which is in Arroyo Grande, which is also not closing, store representatives said.

The company is not allowing local store employees to speak to the press, referring The Tribune to a media hotline. That, in turn, referred all calls to limited information at www.moviegallery.com.

“Movie Gallery’s goal is to emerge from the restructuring process with a new and sustainable business model centered on a smaller base of profitable stores,” according to the Web site.

The company has been struggling with competition as consumers turn increasingly to streaming videos online or renting from from Netflix Inc. and other services. Annual revenue fell $546.3 million, or 28 percent, to $1.4 billion, according to a recent Associated Press report.

The company listed debts of between $500 million and $1 billion, compared with assets of between $10 million and $50 million, according to its bankruptcy filings.

Local video store owner James Tomkins, who bought the Crossroads Video store on Broad Street in San Luis Obispo six years ago, said he’s seen a steady downward trend in business over the years by about 25 percent.

“We like to think we have advantages, we have people you can talk to, we can find a movie for you,” said Tomkins, whose store has about 13,000 movies.

He also said that DVDs are reasonably priced entertainment, and because of that, the downturn in the economy has actually helped business. Also, people are buying better entertainment systems so they have a good movie experience at home, he said.

Still, with mail-based services such as Netflix and movies online, Tomkins said he wouldn’t be surprised if most video stores are gone in five years.

“Who knows, maybe I’ll be the last one standing,” he said. “That would be an achievement.”

University Square owner Rob Rossi said that a number of potential tenants have shown interest in the soon-to-be vacant Hollywood Video’s 5,000-square-foot site, but nothing has yet been finalized.

— Melanie Cleveland

Local hospitals help provide Haiti relief

Three Central Coast Catholic Healthcare West Hospitals continue to provide aid and send medical professionals to Haiti following the catastrophic earthquake in January.

Arroyo Grande Community Hospital collected more than $3,200 in a weeklong fundraiser in January to benefit Haitian earthquake victims.

French Hospital Medical Center emergency services nurse Jen Nicholson is currently volunteering at the Catholic Medical Missions Board Sarthe Neighborhood Clinic in Haiti.

The hospital also sent hundreds of dollars in medical supplies.

Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria recently sent a 650-pound pallet of medical supplies to Baptist missionaries in Haiti.

In addition, two Marian physicians, Debra Weinstein and Nicandro Castaneda, have recently returned from volunteer trips to Haiti. In March, Dr. Kamlesh Desai and nurses Beth Simmons and Tracy Cearley make trips as well.

Throughout March, Marian will also be accepting good quality new or used tents to send to Haiti.

Dropoffs will be accepted at Marian Medical Center’s Health and Wellness Center, 1406 East Main Street, Santa Maria.

— Julia Hickey

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