Hollywood comes to Austin

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 19, 1999

Friday, November 19, 1999

They began unpacking the boxes Sunday and opened the store Wednesday.

Hollywood Video opened its smallest store in Austin this week in the Target development on 18th Ave. NW. The store may be small by Hollywood Video standards, but it’s fully outfitted with the latest in newly released videos, DVDs and console games. It’s also in the newest style of Hollywood Video stores.

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"We want to give it that Hollywood look," said Rob Obbink, a store director from the Cities who came down to get the Austin store up and running. "When people walk in, we want them to remember Hollywood."

With each row of videos treated as a Hollywood street - find your movie on Vine – and sillouhettes of the Hollywood hills on the walls, the idea is pervasive.

Hollywood Video is the second-largest chain of videostores in the world. The company tries to place its stores in heavily-trafficked mall or stripmall areas, easily accessible to the communities they serve.

"This is a great location," Obbink said, surveying the outside of the store. The video store is just the latest to open in that development, following a Fashion Bug, Quizno’s and a Tobacco Bell.

The store has hired close to 20 people, all from Austin, Obbink noted.

Obbink promises that Hollywood Video offers several things which set it apart from other video stores. One is the rental plan: the price is $3.79 for most rentals including new releases. The movies are rented for five days at a time. If a renter watches the movie right away and brings it back before midnight the following day, he or she will receive a coupon for a dollar off their next rental.

He also said that customer service is a place where Hollywood Videos excell.

"Were you greeted when you came in? We don’t want a customer to walk in here and be all alone," Obbink explained. " We don’t like for them to stand in lines to get their movies, either."

On weekends, the store gets even more interactive, Obbink noted.

"We have the ‘Screen Test’ on weekends," he said, explaining that employees would ask customers trivia questions on Fridays and Saturdays. On the back of the trivia questions are prizes, ranging from free or discounted rentals to free popcorn. Children also receive balloons on the weekends.

Obbink is also proud of one program which allows Hollywood to benefit the community.

"We have a program for the schools – it’s an awards program for top students," he said. "They can get a certificate and a free video."

Even better, he said, is the program for the teachers.

"Teachers can get coupons entitling them to one free video for use in education per week, per year."

Customers can find other benefits in the store as well. There is a phone for calling home, should a consultation need to be made before rental. Next to the phone is the 1999 "Golden Movie Retriever" a guide to every movie ever made. Hollywood Video is also affilliated with reel.com, an Internet-based company. Obbink said the chain has been opening a store a day, and hopes to be 2,000 stores strong by the year 2,000.

For these first two weeks, the store will be going through a ‘soft opening’ while employees get used to the computer system and the rest of their products arrive. However, the store is fully decked out for the holidays and the shelves are packed with videos, DVDs and games. There will be a grand opening soon, at which time Obbink promises people can count on noticing the store.