The credits are rolling at Larsen Video.
After being a source of movie rentals for Utah County since 1987, the family-run business is closing and selling all of its movies. According to its owner, Leon Larsen, the movie rental store is the last brick-and-mortar establishment of its kind in Utah County.
Larsen Video came to be when Leon was given an early retirement from Geneva Steel, where he worked for 25 years.
“I lost my job at Geneva, and I was trying to think what to do,” Larsen explained. “My wife, she thought, ‘Let’s get a video store.’”
In October 1987, Leon and his late wife Carolyn bought out a video store along Main Street in Springville called Adventureland Video and started their own movie rental business.
“If you had 1,000 movies back in 1987, you were on top of the game,” said Larsen.
Larsen Video was “on top of its game” then, and accumulated up to 10,000 during its heyday, according to Larsen.
“You didn’t sell movies, though, because most of them retailed for around $89 back then,” he said.
“There used to be five video stores back 30 years ago in town,” said Larsen.
He recalled a time when home entertainment product distributors would frequently stop by, hoping to sell as many screening tapes of films as they could before movies would come out in theatres. “They’d come down here with a trunk full of movies,” he said. “Gradually they’re all going out of business. Who are they going to sell their movies to now?”
Larsen said that the decline of his movie-rental business has been gradual, and began a downward spiral more sharply around 2001.
“We were doing more business in a week in the 1980’s than we do now in a year,” he said.
About 20 years ago, Larsen Video began selling cellphones and now sells Metro by T-Mobile cellular plans. At first, Larsen sold T-Mobile phones and lost a lot of business to Cricket due to T-Mobile requiring customer contracts. Eventually he switched to Cricket, and things changed dramatically.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to us,” he said, remarking that his business would sell approximately 150 phones a month, until Cricket was acquired by AT&T.
Today, Larsen states declining profits and his age to be his reasons for closing up shop.
“I’ve probably fed this store about $40,000 of my own money in the last five or six years,” said Larsen. “Somebody once told me if you take two days off from work and you can’t wait to get back, you don’t want retire. But, I don’t feel that way right now,” he said.
“I’ve never been on Facebook in my life,” said Larsen, remarking on his business-closing announcement he posted for the first time on the social media network. “I couldn’t believe the response,” he said.
According to Larsen, within an hour, the store was packed.
However, one can still rent movies in-person from some places such as select libraries and Redbox kiosks, or south of Utah County from Movies Plus in Nephi.
Over 32 years of business, Larsen estimates that 27,000 people have come through Larsen Video’s doors.
Larsen Video is currently selling Blu-ray Discs and DVDs for $1.99 a title, and VHS tapes for $0.99 a title. The business is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and will stop selling movies at an undetermined time, though the entire business must be closed on Sept. 12.