DOWNEY – As mobile technology continues to advance, some industries are left in the dust. Like bookstores, the postal service, photo labs and even (gulp) newspapers. Randy Bak knows that reality all too well.
For the last 11 years, Bak has owned VideoMax, a video rental store located at the northwest corner of Imperial Highway and Lakewood Boulevard. After staving off the inevitable as long as he could, Bak says he is closing the store in the next 2-3 weeks.
Rentals will cease beginning Monday, although the store will remain open as Bak tries to clear out his massive inventory of movies and video games.
“I just couldn’t compete anymore,” said Bak, 42. “There are so many ways people can watch movies now. Redbox, Netflix...even bootleg movies are only $2.
“The last 4-5 years have been hard for me but I’ve been trying to hold on and survive.”
Bak, who lives in La Mirada with his wife and three boys, purchased the store in 2003. At the time, Netflix was still in its infancy but gaining popularity, and by 2005 Netflix was shipping out 1 million DVDs per day.
Rising gas prices and the collapse of the real estate market also hurt business, as consumers had less disposable income to play with, Bak said.
“When things were good, I would have 250 people here every Friday and Saturday, checking out multiple movies,” Bak says. “Today, I’m lucky if I have 50 customers on a weekend, and 20 on a weekday.”
Bak countered the convenience of on-demand video services by offering customers access to an expansive film library. His collection includes more than 13,000 DVDs (not including 3,000 adult titles), 9,500 VHS tapes, and approximately 1,100 video games. Rentals were only $2 per day.
Although VideoMax’s membership roll stands at 10,290 members, most of those customers abandoned the store long ago. Bak benefited from a recent trend by millennials to rediscover video rental stores with their young families, but it wasn’t enough.
Starting Monday, Bak will begin the clearance process, selling movies and games at steep discounts. It’s the final step before VideoMax closes for good.
“I’m going to miss my customers the most,” Bak said, his voice cracking a tiny bit with emotion. “They would come to my house for barbecues and I would go to their house. They’re my friends.
“My customers are the reason I held on for so long. But I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
Published: Oct. 23, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 28