Facing an increasingly tough market with a host of online competition, 17-year-old video shop on Miller Ave. will begin a storewide sale on all of its 20,000 titles on July 21.


Silver Screen Video at 459 Miller Avenue. Photo by Jim Welte.

Much like its brethren in the music and news businesses, the business of renting and selling physical DVDs and videos has been in a downward spiral for a decade.

Silver Screen Video, which opened at 459 Miller Avenue in 1997, lasted longer than most, staying alive as its direct competitors like Blockbuster went by the wayside.

But for Almonte resident Scott Lafranchi, who opened the first of eight Silver Screen Video Centers in the Bay Area 28 years ago with his brother Rick, it’s time to close the Mill Valley shop, as well as their store in Terra Linda.

Silver Screen Video on Miller Ave. will close on August 24, with a storewide sale of all of its 20,000 titles beginning on July 21. The store will stop renting videos on August 1.

“The video business has been going downhill for a while now,” said Lafranchi, who plans to keep his Silver Screen shop in Oakland open – for now. “In the meantime a lot of competition went out of business, which actually kept us going for a bit longer. We’re among the last ones. But there are just too many other options for people’s time, not only for video but with the Internet and with live sports.”

While competition in the DVD market from the likes of Redbox and technology powerhouse Netflix hurt the business in the 2000s, the 2010s have been all about streaming services and a rapidly dwindling  DVD market overall, regardless of the provider. With Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and myriad, cloud-based streaming services, as well as a seemingly limitless number of ways to stream video, even including video-game consoles such as Xbox One and the Playstation 4, people simply don’t need to leave their homes inn making a spontaneous decision about entertainment for the night.

In 2003, there were 25,042 establishments that focused primarily on DVD, video game and VHS rentals, and industry revenues were $11.9 billion according to IBIS World, a Los Angeles-based research firm. In 2010, revenues dropped to 17,369 stores with revenues of $7.8 billion. In its latest report on the market in May, the firm said industry revenues were at just $4 billion.

 “We’re really appreciative of our loyal customers for the past 17 years,” Lafranchi said. “We’re the last video store in the area. No hard feeling – the whole business is just really tough right now.”

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