Video rental shop thrives by embracing old instead of new

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BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- At a time when chains like Blockbuster are closing down, and you can pick a Red Box movie while you pump gas, people in Bountiful are passing on the new releases for an old movie rental shop called Top Hat Video.

“When we were dating, we came here,” said Derek Miner, who now visits the store with his wife.

The business was opened in 1983 by Lee and Lona Earl, who have helped it remain timeless, even while similar stores are shutting down.

“We had 190 videos, and they were all VHS or BETA,” Lee Earl said.

When the couple opened their store, few people were even watching videos.

“We would go door to door and just hand somebody a VCR and say, ‘Just try it. You’ll love it,’” Lona Earl said.

In the years since, they’ve survived DVDs and national chains. While many started looking online for their movies, they kept stocking their shelves with the ones you might not see there.

“When all these chains were coming in we just really felt the threat,” Lee Earl said. “We brought in classics, family movies. It makes a difference.”

Bucking the trend of all things new, though, they’ve managed to keep what has become an outdated business running successfully.

“We have a lot of faithful customers that have been with us since the very beginning,” Lee Earl said. “We’re in it for the long haul.”

Top Hat Video is located at 521 West 2600 South in Bountiful.

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