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Sign of the Times: The Once Huge Video Mania Goes Bust

South Dakota- Video Mania, which at its peak had six stores in Sioux Falls, is planning to go out of business after July 31.

Video Mania’s closing of its sole remaining store at 2019 Minnesota Ave. marks the end of a 27-year run for the video rental retail chain that once boasted it had the Midwest’s largest inventory with more than 100,000 titles. As of Monday, the store had only about 20,000 titles remaining, including 7,000 in its adult entertainment section, said Sioux Falls businessman Harlan Jacobsen, Video Mania owner.

Jacobsen blamed his chain’s demise on the video industry’s general decline, losing traction to the Internet that has hurt even big-name players such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

“If I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I would hang on,” said Jacobsen, 79. “But it is only going to get worse.”

Another big factor in Video Mania’s closing: Jacobsen’s publishing business, which has helped buoy the store, has slumped this summer. Sales of his special newspapers – such as South Dakota Casino Fun, Y B Fat 101 and Diabetes Cure 101 – are down $2,000 a month, he said.

He said high gasoline prices have cut back traffic at more than 140 rest stops along the interstate freeways in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska where his company’s newspapers are sold from news racks.

From his last store, where the faade includes a neon paint can, Jacobsen has conducted rentals and sales of movies and video games. His store’s going-out-of-business sale includes rare VHS titles.

The colorful store, with walls adorned with movie posters, also has a cyberspace café. And more than 20 leafy green plants sit on shelves and on the floor of the cluttered shop.

Reflecting on his store’s imminent closing, Jacobsen said, “It’s kind of sad.”

Scott Furney, 37, one of Video Mania’s regular customers for years, agreed.

“It would be nice if it didn’t close,” Furney said as he thumbed through the sales racks looking to pick up some action thrillers and other kinds of movies.

Larry Bridenstine, a veteran Video Mania employee, shared Furney’s sentiments.

“I think it is sad,” Bridenstine said of the store’s imminent shuttering. He has worked at for the store 20 years, most recently reformatting foreign tapes so they work in U.S. video machines.

Despite closing the store, Jacobsen said he still will publish his newspapers, operate some 300 Web sites and maintain his eBay store of hard-to-find movies and games as well as continue making customized license plate frames.

While Video Mania has carried a wide selection of movies, from children’s titles to comedy and action-adventure flicks, the retailer gained some notoriety because it has carried X-rated movies.

Early on, some religious groups boycotted Video Mania, Jacobsen recalled, although he added, “That was never really a big problem.”


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