Under One Roof Video Store is celebrating its 20th year of business.
Owner Becky Leonard is offering a number of specials and changes to mark the occasion. The business has changed a lot during that time, and she has to adapt to stay competitive with places such as Redbox, Netflix and even Internet downloads.
She has allowed customers who owe past due charges to erase their balance. One went as far back as 1998. To date, she's forgiven $4,769.56 in past due charges.
"I felt that was kind of a neat thing to do," Leonard said. "Sometimes, it's just a good idea to start from scratch."
While the five movies for five days for $5 special remains popular, every once in a while she increases it to 10 movies for five days for $5. That has enabled her to attract a new base of out-of-town customers, Leonard said.
She also did away with charging an additional days rental fee for overdue movies. Now it's just $1 a day for as long as the customer keeps the movie or game.
"That goes well with our video games," Leonard said. "A lot of people use it for that."
Under One Roof now offers disc repair for $4.99. She already had the machine to fix the store's rental discs, and realized she should offer it to her customers also.
With video games selling for $50 or more, it makes more sense to repair them than replace them, Leonard said.
Several racks hold used DVDs, VHS tapes and video games for sale. The store has batteries and handheld remote control devices, and she plans to carry some DVD players.
There are also some arcade games. Leonard said she would like to add more of those.
Free popcorn remains the norm. Gift cards are also available.
Under One roof has conducted six cash and charity drawings. The winner gets $100, and another $100 is donated to a local charity. Donations have gone to the local United Way, Hospice of the North Country, JCEO, Red Cross, North Country Life Flight and Champlain Valley Habitat for Humanity chapters.
Movies are grouped in a number of sections, including new releases, Oscar winners, recent hits, great directors, epics, cult films and local interest, as well as more familiar themes such as comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror and action.
Leonard said she's always open to customer requests for rentals, which are featured in the Just In section.
A discreet back room houses a selection of adult movies.
"We do carry adult films," Leonard said. "I strongly feel people have the right to rent those if they want."
She opened her first store in West Chazy June 1, 1990.
"It was a big video store in a little hamlet," Leonard said of the former Route 22 location.
The move came after she acquired an inventory of movies from a Keeseville business. Next, she needed a place to house them, which led her to West Chazy.
Movies were only on VHS tapes at that time, which made things less complicated. She also offered video games, novelties, snacks and soft drinks, which she continues to carry.
There is also some jewelry for sale, which Leonard said sells surprisingly well.
Her second store was in Morrisonville, she said, followed by a third in Plattsburgh. Both were existing video stores.
The Plattsburgh store was moved from West Bay Plaza to Margaret Street in 2003.
She and her husband gutted the former auto garage and renovated to the present arrangement. The decor is highlighted by purple carpet with film reels and popcorn.
"We've got the coolest carpet in Plattsburgh," Leonard said.
She later closed the Morrisonville and West Chazy stores. Although both were still making a profit, business had slowed considerably, and she decided to concentrate on the Plattsburgh location, which was doing better.
The conversion to DVDs started March 19, 1999. Leonard and her employees were initially reluctant, because they were worried the discs would be damaged when dropped in the deposit box.
The first disc was The Wizard of Oz, Leonard said. She said that was kind of a no-brainer.
Leonard grew up on South Catherine Street and attended Plattsburgh High School. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, then went on to Albany State University.
She later received a degree in computer science at Plattsburgh State and later was a data processing manager at CVPH Medical Center before she opened the business.
Her favorite movie is It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, released in 1963. It features an all-star ensemble cast engaged in a race to find buried treasure.
"My favorite scene is when Jonathan Winters is tearing up the garage," Leonard said.
Under One Roof has even turned into a family business. Her son, Nick Leonard, started working in the Morrisonville store in 2007 and now works at the Plattsburgh location.
Leonard said she's proud to be the last independent video store in Plattsburgh. There's nothing like owning a business in a field you love, Leonard said.
"I've always loved movies," she said. "It's a passion of mine."
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