Westerns rule the video screen

Sam Green/Cortez Journal Jaime Martinez stands guard over some 8,000 flicks at Valley Video, a surviving mom-and-pop movie rental business in Mancos.

Americans have witnessed the rise and fall of video rental stores, but a Mancos mom-and-pop outfit doesn’t have immediate plans of calling it a wrap.

“A lot of people here don’t have satellite or cable television,” said Bill Stogsdill. “I saw an opportunity, and we’re still here today.”

About 15 years ago, Stogsdill decided to take an early retirement as a Chicago glassblower, and he relocated his family to Mancos. In 2001, without any background in the home entertainment business, he and his wife, Juanita, opened Valley Video at 515 Grand Ave. Today, the mom-and-pop operation boasts a catalogue of some 8,000 flicks.

“We have the largest movie selection around,” proclaimed stepson Jaime Martinez from behind the counter. “We can match up against anyone.”

With video on demand, the American audience is changing, evidenced by the recent collapse of Blockbuster.

But Valley Video has been impacted “only slightly,” Stogsdill said. He attributes the longevity of the business to customer service.

“We do what we can to keep people happy,” he said. “Plus, our customers are pretty loyal. Some of them we’ve had since the day we opened.”

The fact that Valley Video rental prices have remained unchained probably helps too. Since opening nearly 12 years ago, the Stogsdill’s have maintained $3 rental fees for new releases. Older titles are available for $2.

Valley Video offers a variety of genres, from foreign titles to horror flicks, but the vast majority of customers prefer old Westerns, said Stogsdill. It also offers a wide selection of children’s cartoons, action, drama, war and sci-fi movies.

“Our best-sellers are the old classics with John Wayne and Gary Cooper,” he said. “We have several thousand movies from the ’40s and ’50s.”

“If we don’t have what you want, we can order it,” added Martinez.

The family owns the store’s collection of movies. Stogsdill said, eliminating rents from a third party.

“I just don’t want to have to mess with anybody else,” he said.

While the movie industry tackles its changing market, Stogsdill said it’s not much of a concern for him.

“We’re just trying to hang in there until I’m old enough to retire in two or three years,” he said.

It’s unclear if Martinez will take over the business at that time. The 38-year-old has written some screenplays, and he dreams of one day jumping from behind the counter to the creative side of the silver screen.

“Maybe one day,” he said.

Valley Video operates from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and noon to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.