Steve Volan, owner of The Cinemat, is letting the burden off his shoulders piece by piece.
On Feb. 16, Volan began selling The Cinemat’s DVD and VHS collection in an effort to start paying off accumulating debt that the business has racked up. The business has been in operation since August 2002.
“The video-rental part was no longer sustainable,” Volan said.
The Cinemat will continue to operate its screening room, host to its almost-daily events and performances, at least through March 31, Volan said. Owning the business was a great deal of responsibility and he said he hopes that by May someone will have stepped up to take over the space.
Volan said he does not want to be the prime owner of the business and will keep the store open to help give his staff some time to find new jobs.
Volan has served as a Bloomington City Council member since 2003 for District 6 and teaches an eight-week chess class at IU in the College of Arts and Sciences.
In July 2007, Volan put the store up for sale because he said he felt he was “one of the least uniquely unqualfied people to run the place” and because he wasn’t willing to put more into the store as a full-time employee, he said last July.
At the time, Volan was willing to sell the store to someone who wanted to run it as is. And as much as he loves movies, he said he felt he was holding the store back.
By August 2007, Volan decided to keep The Cinemat afloat. But now, the store is not pulling its own weight.
Volan doesn’t want to blame the declining economy as the sole reason for The Cinemat’s downfall.
Volan said there was a decrease in rentals and people were able to start watching movies on YouTube and downloading them through BitTorrent file-sharing Web sites.
Volan said a big reason for the decline in sales for his video collection is the Netflix player by Roku, a box that allows Netflix subcribers to instantly stream more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes from Netflix directly to the TV.
“When you can stream 15,000 movies instantly for no additional charge, that’s kind of hard to compete with,” Volan said. “But that combined with the economy and our own cash position, we weren’t set up to sustain our operations.”
The Cinemat’s rental collection of more than 5,000 titles was put on sale for the public starting last Friday, according to a press release. Plan 9 Video, another locally owned video-rental store at 213 N. Walnut St., will be acquiring a part of The Cinemat’s videos as well.
Nathan Vollmar, an employee at The Cinemat for more than three years, said he was not particularly surprised the store was closing and that “it was a long time coming.”
“We’ve been struggling for a while,” he said. “We have a lot of movies that are rare and hard to find, and people really appreciated that.”
Volan said with the announcement, loyal costumers have expressed their dismay orconcern for the store.
“There’s been an outpouring of sympathy,” he said, adding that he was confident someone would buy it in time. “We’ll be fine, though. We’ll land on our feet somehow.”
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