Diverse options exist for video rentals

T.J. Gerlach

Those who rent movies in the area have a wide selection of vendors.

Each vendor also offers its customers different renting options as well as a competitive price.

The newest video store in the area, Hitz Entertainment at 1313 S. Range Line Road, opened late last year. Hitz is the only rental store in the area that only rents movies in DVD format.

It rents the newest titles, “hot hitz,” for $3.28 and other new releases for $2.99. Older movies, or category movies, rent for $1.99, with some titles set at 99 cents.

All of Hitz’s movies rent for seven days, except the hot hitz, which rent for only three days.

Bill Wills, owner of Hitz Entertainment, set the prices himself after examining local competitors’ prices.

“We had a general idea [of what to charge], but we didn’t want to be more expensive than the others,” said Oscar Gonzalez, manager of Hitz Entertainment.

Blockbuster Video, at 1001 S. Range Line Road, charges $3.79 for its two-day rentals, which are new releases out for fewer than three weeks. Seven day new releases rent for $3.49.

“Of course older titles go down in price,” said Dwayne Dunlap, assistant manager of Blockbuster.

This franchise store sets its prices in accordance with the corporate office and does not examine local competitors’ prices.

Crown Video has three locations in Joplin and one in Neosho, but any item may be rented from any location and returned to any location.

All of the Crown Video locations charge the same prices for their items. “Red hot releases” rent for $3.28 and older new releases are $3 and category titles rent for 49 cents, $1 or $2.

All items rent for seven days, except the red hot releases, which rent for three to five days, depending on what day the title is rented.

Movie Gallery, at 1460 N. Madison in Webb City, another national chain store, rents new releases for $3.29 for either one or five days, but a one day can be made a five-day rental by adding 99 cents to the price. Its “gallery” titles rent for $2.29 and children’s movies rent for $1.99, both for five days.

Hastings management declined to comment for this story.

Each vendor also has its own policy toward late fees.

Movie Gallery’s computers automatically renew items for the same price and the same length of time as the initial rental.

Crown Video charges half the rental price of an item for each day it is past due, but it has a grace period that lasts until the store opens the following morning

At Blockbuster Video, all rentals are due by noon with a two-hour grace period. If the item is not returned by that time, two-day rentals are charged $1.25 for every day past due and $2.35 per day on seven-day rentals. This policy differs from the corporate policy, which is similar to Movie Gallery’s.

Hitz Entertainment charges $1 for every day past due on items $2.99 and up. Rentals that were $1.99 are charged 50 cents per day and 99 cent rentals are charged 25 cents per day. Hitz also has a 24-hour grace period on its return times.

Hitz customers also have another option for rentals. It offers an unlimited rental program. The program allows patrons to pay a flat fee to rent two, three or four DVDs out at one time and bring them back at anytime for more rentals. This can be done as often as the customer wishes for the 30-day period.

A similar program is offered for games.

Blockbuster offers customers its “Rewards” program, which allows customers to earn free rentals with the rentals.

“It’s a good deal,” Dunlap said. “It keeps customers coming back.”

Crown Video offers a $1 off deal on rentals to customers. If certain new release titles are rented and returned before 9 p.m. the following day, customers receive a $1 credit on their account.

Other than just renting DVDs and games, Hitz allows customers to special order almost anything at discount prices, including high-priced electronics. Hitz also rents titles that no other video store would carry.

“We’re trying to be different,” Gonzalez said. “Other places don’t carry Indie, foreign or anime films.”

While the one store is its only location, Hitz plans on creating a chain of stores in the area and eventually into Springfield.