Maybe a hundred DVDs and a few hundred VHS tapes were left on Dark Star Video’s shelves this afternoon.
Owner Michael Edwards was busy sweeping up debris from last weekend’s intense sales frenzy. Today is probably the store’s last day.
“We had people buying hundreds [of videos] at a time,” says Edwards.
“I had three employees just putting DVDs into their cases and putting them up on the shelves. People were buying so many videos we were giving them garbage bags. We finally ran out of garbage bags.”
With DVDs were going for $5 each over the weekend Edwards could hardly keep up with the pace. Today DVDs were $2 each and VHS tapes were four for a dollar, but only a few customers came in to pick over the remains.
“Things went slowly at first, but then we put up the banner and when word got out, it just snowballed,” says Edwards.
Dark Star Video’s closing marks the loss of two Center Square video stores in just a month. The other is Blockbuster on Lawrence Ave. Tom’s Video, 1830 W. Wilson Avenue, still holds on.
But Edwards is not closing for economic reasons, he’s leaving to help support a family business his parents founded and his two brothers and sisters are now operating.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I don’t want to do it no more,” says Edwards. “I have to go work with my family business to avert a hostile takeover. That’s my main motivation.
“[The store] was doing pretty well. Blockbuster’s closing was helpful. I wasn’t getting rich, but I was doing well enough.
“A lot of things came together to make this decision. I made it last November. That’s when my brothers and sister and I got together after Thanksgiving to try and save the company.”
A 40-year old company that manufactures conductors for smart grid technology, Edwards is much more keen on saving that business than Dark Star Video.
“It’s a green energy business. It’s a growing business and considerably larger than this one,” says Edwards.
Edwards seems somber, but ready to move on. “Some customers came in and were angry at me for selling but it’s not like I’m a firefighter going on strike. This is entertainment,” he says.
Originally from the South Side, Edwards lived in Uptown for a while and now lives just outside of the 47th Ward.
“This neighborhood was nothing like it is now,” said Edwards, and there were break-ins at the store when he first opened 15 years ago.
“I wouldn’t say I was a pioneer, but as independent business moves out it’s just banks and cell phone stores coming in. It’s still a great neighborhood, but all the people coming in seem to be from the suburbs now. All the people coming in from Highland Park and Deerfield and they want it to be like Highland Park and Deerfield for some reason.”
Although he had listed the space on the market last July, Edwards will retain ownership of the storefront, a commercial condo space, and will rent it to a pair of property managers setting up shop in the neighborhood.
Edwards is donating the remainder of his stock to Odd Obsession Video, 1822 N. Milwaukee Ave. “It’s a pretty good video store,” he says.