The city of Athens’ last true brick-and-mortar video rental store is closing down.
The manager of Premiere Video, located at 284 E. State St., confirmed Monday that the video and video game rental store will have its last day of rentals this Saturday, Nov. 12. The store has been open since December 1997.
Jason Werner, 40, has been manager of the Athens Premiere Video for the last 13 years. The small, privately owned video rental chain, based in Minnesota, has only a few stores left now, Werner said.
Werner said the reason Premiere Video is going out of business is that video rentals are no longer a “viable business” in the American marketplace, with the established popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and on-demand cable and satellite. Werner said Premiere Video was able to survive long after most video rental businesses closed because of loyal, devoted customers, especially those who live out in the county who don’t have access to high-speed Internet.
“For my generation and older, we typically like to actually look at a product and have a product in our hand,” Werner explained. “I don’t know what a lot of people are going to do now… I apologize to all of those people that we can’t keep going on, but what can you do?”
Magic Video, another beloved Athens video rental store staple that focused on renting foreign, classic and indie films, went out of business in 2008 after 25 years of serving the community.
Werner said he has fond memories of running Premiere Video (which has seven employees, including Werner). He recalled watching the community and its residents grow.
“I watched some of these kids grow up, kids that were 10 years old (renting videos) who I later hired when they were in college,” Werner said.
Werner said there will be a close-out sale of all of Premiere Video’s stock between Nov. 18 and 20.
“It’s been a great experience,” Werner said. “It really turned into something more than a video store after a point. We had lots of locals who would bring us cookies on holidays, and things like that. It really became kind of a community store.”
Werner said he’ll specifically miss showing the “Star Wars” movies on repeat throughout the store.
What’s next for him?
“I’m going to take a break,” he said. “Go ride my bike in South America for a bit.”