The last movie-rental place believed to be in operation in western South Dakota will soon be gone.
It was officially announced last week that Mr. Movies, located at 3609 Sturgis Road in Rapid City, will close next month, with liquidation of inventory to start Thursday.
Store manager Jennifer Wyman said the store has about 16,000 copies of movies in its inventory. She said the store is the last rental store on the western side of the state as far as she knows. The records for the Mr. Movies store in Rapid City go back to 1996, she said.
Movie-rental stores used to be ubiquitous. Blockbuster Video had more than 9,000 stores in the United States at its peak, CNN reported in March. However, the chain currently is down to one store worldwide, which is in Bend, Oregon. The last Blockbuster in Rapid City made its final rental in February 2016, the Journal reported.
Rapid City had two Mr. Movies stores, including an east-side location at 1601 E. Cambell St. that began its final clearance in May 2017.
Wyman said the decision to close the current store was a culmination of factors. Sales had steadily declined over the last couple of years due to the increased popularity of streaming movies online. It also had become harder to get movie orders on time or, in some cases, at all. Additionally, the company that provided promotional items like posters to the store went out of business in February.
Recent construction on adjacent West Chicago Street also was a hit to the store, Wyman said.
Still, there were factors that allowed Mr. Movies to outlast all other similar businesses.
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Wyman said many of her customers lived in the Black Hills, where the internet service may not be conducive to streaming movies. And there were some who didn't want to have to come to town to return a movie the next day to a vending machine like Redbox. Mr. Movies would allow customers to rent a new-release movie for two or five days and a catalog movie for seven days. Also, Wyman said, the store's catalog includes older films that may not be available on a streaming service.
Wyman has been working for Mr. Movies for eight years and describes herself as someone who would quote movies and know film trivia even before starting there.
“It was kind of like a hobby that turned into a job,” she said.
Signs have been up about the store going out of business for about a month, Wyman said, and they began getting the word out about that time as well. Regular customers reactions indicated they are sad to see Mr. Movies go, she said, especially considering the familiarity they had with the store's employees over the years. Wyman said three other employees had been there at least four years apiece.
“The thing I get a lot, too, is yes I'm going to miss the movies, but I'm going to miss coming in to talk to you guys,” Wyman said.
Mr. Movies has had other connections in the community, giving free rentals to teachers to use in schools and making other rental donations, Wyman said.
“It's that stuff, you know. It's like the movies, whatever, it's all those interpersonal relations I had with these people,” she said.
New movies will be available for sale for $9.99 to $14.99, and catalog movies will cost $6.99 per DVD and $7.99 per Blu-ray.