Following a prolonged struggle to keep up with streaming services and digital downloads, the last remaining video rental store in Contra Costa County is shuttering for good after 34 years of business. Take One Video's last day in operation is Jan. 20.
The store owners, Tony Ibrahim and Jason Wood, are planning to transition to podcasting and business-to-business communications, a venture the pair hope will be more sustainable while allowing them to keep a tow in the entertainment industry.
Still, they say the closure of the Pleasant Hill store, located in the Oak Park shopping center, is a bittersweet end to what has been a long-time passion project for the two movie buffs.
“Even though over the years we’ve had great customer support and loyalty — the landlords have also been really gracious to us over the years — there comes a time when you’ve got to move on,” Wood said. “Every year, we've had less and less people coming in.”
Wood and Ibrahim purchased the store from the original owners in 1999. There was once multiple branches, including stores in Lafayette, Danville, and San Ramon, but, by 2011, the Pleasant Hill store was the sole survivor.
“This was coming for a while,” Wood said. “People have content in front of them constantly. It definitely is a different time for technology.”
Wood and Ibrahim have tried to keep up the pace, adding video transfer and photography services to the store’s repertoire, which they plan on continuing after Take One shutters.
Midway through the store's final week, the two are still focused on ridding themselves of a massive movie collection. The thousands of DVDs and knick-knacks on the shelves — including a plentiful supply of "Star Wars" merchandise — are for sale at a fraction of the original price.
“We’re hoping to get as much stuff out of here as possible,” Wood said. “We imagine we’ll have to move some of it to storage.”
The store leaves behind a core group of longtime customers, many of whom said the closure was inevitable but disappointing nonetheless.
“I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am sad,” said Michael Degama, who said he comes to the store whenever he visits his mother, who lives in town. “There’s something to be said for going in, actually holding a copy of the DVD in your hand and talking with the people behind the counter.”
Others said they appreciated the store staying open for as long as possible. For them, Take One Video represented a local business that maintained its charm and family-friendly feel against increasingly tricky industry conditions.
“To be honest, I’m surprised it lasted this long,” said Ashley Gutierrez. “I really can’t remember the last time I saw a video store. It kind of makes me sad because I remember going to the store when I was little and the excitement of picking out a movie. We don’t have that experience anymore.”
Wood said the store survived mainly due to the families who had been shopping there for years and the generosity of their landlord, who kept prices reasonable throughout Take One Video’s tenure.
“We have customers that we’ve known for 18 years,” Wood said. “We talk about everyday things in life, from school to college to sports to religion. And that’s what we’ll miss the most.”