One of the last video rental stores in the Valley closes its doors after 25 years

CHANDLER – When Video Paradise opened in 1991, Arnold Schwarzenegger was saving the future in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. VHS machines were in every household and DVDs were a few years away from the mainstream. If you wanted the latest Tom Cruise flick you rented it for a couple days from stores like Video Paradise.

At 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, Video Paradise will close its doors for the last time, one of the last video rental stores in the Valley.

“This last summer was a really difficult,” said owner Marshall Hawkins. “And as we went into fall it wasn’t getting much better. We couldn’t afford to move, so it seemed time for us to go.”

Once upon a time, movie rental stores were as common as Starbucks. Video Paradise, based in Chandler, managed to hang on for 25 years, longer than national chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

The problem facing Video Paradise was simple. Nowadays, people don’t drive to their local video rental store for the latest Avengers movie. They simply stream it online.

“That’s really been the largest part of the change in our industry: the days of Friday and Saturday nights with families coming in. You know the kids are not steering the car to the video store,” Hawkins said. “They are very comfortable ordering online and getting their entertainment through other vehicles.”

Still, Hawkins said people who use online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu are missing out.

“At the end of the day, the younger folk don’t know what they are missing,” said Hawkins. They don’t understand who James Cagney is, who the stars of the 50’s and 60’s were. Not to mention the amount of selection that is available and is out there. For every movie that is out in theaters that does well, there is 150 of them that you have never heard of.”

Even though his store is closing, Hawkins said, DVDs will stick around. They may even gain a niche audience, much like vinyl records.
DVDs may become a collector’s’ item but with less popularity than vinyl.

“Vinyl is very unique due to the fact that vinyl is very artistic,” he said. “When you go back and collect vinyl you see gorgeous artwork in regards to the presentation.”

Directors, film students and movie junkies will continue to be entertained he believes. b
Movie fan and collector Michael Lottes relied on stores like Video Paradise.

“If it was a foreign film or a comedy that you couldn’t find anywhere else, you [could] count on it being here,’’ Lottes said as he flipped through movies. “If it wasn’t, you could ask them and they could probably special order it for you,” said Lottes.

Now Lottes and other customers will have to do a lot more searching to find those indie films or classics.
For Video Paradise, the final script is done.

“It’s a sad day,” said Hawkins. “But at the end of the day [I’m] very pleased that it’s lasted as long as it has.”