Vision Video to close flagship Broad St. location
Jan 03, 2013 (Athens Banner-Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
In 27 years, the number of movie titles available for rent at Vision Video on Broad Street multiplied by 100.
Back in 1986, the first Vision Video location opened at 749 W. Broad St. with only 200 movies on its shelves.
As the company, now with two other locations in Athens -- on Barnett Shoals Road in the Georgetown Square shopping center, and in the Homewood Hills shopping center off Jefferson Road, both of which will remain open -- plans to scuttle its flagship store by the end of February, 20,000 film titles will have to be quickly sold.
The departure of this iconic Athens business will leave another hole, and opportunity for development, along the city's main thoroughfare into the central business district.
Many factors influenced the decision to close Vision Video's Broad Street location, said owner Charles Seward, the major reason being increased expenses not correlating to an increase in revenue.
"We are very grateful for all the support from the community," Seward said. "We loved being at this location. It's very sad on our end that we are closing the store that started it all."
Seward noted that Vision Video's two other Athens locations are doing well and are still available to serve their Broad Street customers. He said employees from Broad Street will be offered jobs at the other locations once the store closes in February. Vision Video also operates an outpost in Oconee County.
Vision Video is working in a very competitive environment, Seward said, noting the effects that access to movies via Netflix and Redbox have had on the rest of the rental business.
But Seward doesn't "have any interest in being in the robot business," he said. Interacting with people, he explained, is what drew Seward, who runs Vision Video with his brother, into the business.
Despite all the fluctuation in the market, Vision Video didn't raise prices, he said, and outlasted competition like Blockbuster, which has closed its Athens stores.
Locally owned Video Link also quit the business in 2012
Seward said the business didn't own the Broad Street building, and couldn't control that expense.
Vision Video's exit from Broad Street opens another chance for developers to remake the commercial face of the thoroughfare.
The roughly one-acre lot that's home to a retail space and smaller garage is owned by an Athens-based Broad and Pope, LLC, which is maintained by Larry Benson, president of Benson's Bakery. The Benson family also runs the Benson's Hospitality Group, which operates four hotels in Athens.
The Athens-Clarke County tax assessor values the property at $456,000.
Fraternity Phi Kappa Tau bought a former restaurant two blocks away from Vision Video in 2012 for $600,000.
Request for comment from the holding corporation have not yet been returned.
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