New venture to rent Waterfront’s movies

MIDDLEBURY — The 16,000 movie titles from Waterfront Video’s former Middlebury store are being inventoried for inclusion in a new movie rental business that will provide job training for people looking to enter the workforce.

Waterfront Video closed its Marble Works location earlier this spring, citing as reasons a deteriorating storefront and increased competition from services like Netflix and the Redbox DVD kiosks.

Waterfront officials said they would continue to operate their Burlington store and initially announced plans to conduct a sell-off of the Middlebury location’s 16,000 titles. Waterfront had built up a dedicated local following due to its expansive collection of classic movies, documentaries, musicals and new releases.

But a group of contributors, led by Addison County resident Jeanne Montross, announced plans to preemptively buy the entire inventory in order to maintain their availability to Addison County residents. Montross put up $1,000-plus herself and sought out another 11 people to make a similar contribution.

As of June 15, investors had assembled all but around $2,700 to complete the transaction. Last week saw Montross boxing up the DVDs and VHS tapes for storage until a new rental venue — preferably in downtown Middlebury — can be secured.

Once the collection is inventoried, the contributors plan to hold a community meeting to determine how best to make the movies available.

“We want to know what (system) people would use; what they would really want,” Montross said. “Then we would try to do that.”

At this point, the group is considering a nonprofit venture with a job-training component, according to Montross.

“It would kind of be like a library, where people would pay a subscription,” for access to move titles, Montross explained. She envisions putting the titles on a searchable data base and having what she hopes is a “central location” from which people could pick up the movies. The exact rental fees and policies will be worked out in the coming weeks, she said.

“We don’t need to make money, but we need to not be losing money,” Montross added, noting money generated beyond expenses could be directed at some new movie purchases to keep the collection fresh.

As executive director of Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE), Montross comes in contact with many people looking for work. She hopes the movie rental venture can be an avenue through which some folks could learn customer service skills to make them better job candidates.

If things go smoothly, Montross hopes the new nonprofit video store can be open by this fall.

“It is going to take a while to figure it out and get it all organized,” Montross said.

Anyone able to help raise the remaining money for the Waterfront collection should call Montross at 388-3608, ext. 239. She would particularly like to hear from a summer resident named “John” who recently expressed interest in helping out, but whose subsequent voice message did not record well.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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