few tidbits about That's Rentertainment:
That's Rentertainment opened on June 1st, 1985 in a 600 square foot
space in the back of Johnstowne Centre. At the time we were a record
rental place with a handful (maybe 200) of VHS and Beta
tapes. Our goal was to stock only the very coolest movies -- international,
cult, independent -- pretty much, stuff I like. CDs arrived soon there after
and we started buying those, too.
about two years we moved across the sidewalk (to a space that
isn't there anymore -- it's apartments now) and almost immediately
got a "cease and desist" letter from the RIAA (apparently
renting records and CDs was illegal for stores but somehow not for libraries).
The next day we had a massive sale, sold all of our records and CDs, and bought more
we moved across the sidewalk again (to where Benetton used to
be, and then a variety of misc places including Harold's Chicken and Fat Sandwich). We kept buying video tapes
at an alarming rate and building and re-building all of our shelving
and counters. Someone even shot a scene for a film ("The
Garbage Man") in our store but it never got released.
If you ever get to see it, that's the always charming Alice Gorman
(then Renter's manager) in the background.
some point we opened our first second store. It was on Oregon Street
(in Urbana) right next to Espresso Royale -- we shared
the space with Delight's (and, if memory serves, Espresso shared
their space with Kinko's). We stayed there about two years
before Bruce decided he needed more space (and changed the name from Delight's into Za's) and we decided we didn't
need any at all. He kept the space for another ten years or so and
we moved out immediately.
finally moved to our final resting spot at the corner of 6th and
John Street (former home to Schrumf's Grocery). We opened here in July, 1994. DVDs
soon arrived and I believe Rentertainment was one of the first
Video Stores in the country to rent them. They were rolled out
in three markets nationwide -- Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
I drove to Chicago early that morning and went to every Best Buy
I could find and bought a copy of every DVD there was (20
in all I think). Then I raced back to Champaign, checked
them in and put them out for rent. Needless to say, no one rented
them because no one had a DVD player. That's all changed and now
we've got a gazillion DVDs and it's the bulk of what we stock (mainly
because we ditched VHS in the summer of 2005). Oh, somewhere
in there we bought a ton of laser discs, rented them for a few
years and then sold them. We also had games for a while but I lost interest and got rid of them. And, sometime around 2006 the great "High Definition War" started between BluRay and HD-DVD. For a while, we stocked both formats but when HD finally surrendered, we started buying BluRay heavily. Now we have a ton of BluRay titles to go with our gazillion DVDs.
|In September of 1998 we opened our second second store in Urbana. This time it
was on Lincoln Avenue (where McBride's Drug Store and more recently
The Corner Store use to be) and shared a space with Caffe
Paradiso. After a year we moved next door to where Garcia's
used to be. When the lease ran out we decided to go back to having
just one store.
here we are, over 25+ years later...
516 E John, Champaign
|And, in case you haven't been in yet, here's what That's Rentertainment looks like on the inside: