Scott Coleman has spent 16 years as owner and operator of PC America, but he has passions beyond computers. In June, he launched a new division of his business that indulges one of his other loves, movies.
Called DVDz Now, the store represents the rebirth of the independent video shops that thrived before the advent of big box video rental stores such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.
"The big guys came along and closed all the indy shops down," explains Coleman, providing a brief history lesson. "But," he continued, "Blockbuster closing left a huge hole," in the video rental industry.
Coleman aims to occupy that opening. And while, he embraces the "independent" characterization, he also calls his store a "mini-big box" because of its wealth of selections, which comprise over 2,000 titles.
Aside from large retailers such as Best Buys and Walmart, Coleman's other main sources of competition are the newer movie delivery services Netflix and Redbox. A Redbox distribution center is located a floor above Coleman's establishment, creating a friendly on-site rivalry.
However, the owner believes he has no direct competition from other "indies" either locally or statewide.
"I'm the only one in Connecticut who is doing this," he proudly informs.
Coleman can quicky tick off a list of advantages that he claims his operation offers over those of his various competitiors."
"We have a better selection and at least as good a price. And we offer personal service. We love movies. If a movie is a dog, we'll tell you. And we sometimes get movies 28 - 56 days before Netflix and Redbox do."
Coleman is able to manage this feat because of relationships he has developed with Hollywood studios. The east coast retailer was able to foster these connections through a "studio broker" company whose identity he will not divulge, for competitive reasons.
DVDz Now allows customers to rent, buy, or sell videos like a traditional video store, but Coleman has also strived to create "a movie experience" inside. Trailers for every disk the store has in stock are viewable at a personal computer station. And the store produces complimentary, monthly promotional DVDs that highlight attractions that it features as well as unrelated video shorts.
The owner has plans to further broaden DVDz Now's cinematic experience in the furure. He envisions the creation of a small "10 - 40 seat theater" which could feature scheduled films, sporting events, election night coverage, and other items of interest. He also wants to ramp up the production of movie-themed digital content on DVDz Now's website and is in talks with a major theater franchise to cooperatively produce an online movie-review show.
An opportunist with a keen business sense, Coleman furnishes a section of classic records for sale, and, beyond the entertainment realm, sells business supplies. He describes the latter division of his business, as his own "mini-Staples," except he intentionally undercuts Staples and its office supply chain cousins with his prices.
DVDz Now/ PC America is located at 21 New Britain Avenue and is open M - F, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and Sat., 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.