Long live the video store!

When Chelsea’s Blockbuster closed in March–one of hundreds of locations to close nationwide–no one could have predicted another video store would take its place. “There are so few of us left standing,” says Laura Morris, general manager of Movie Planet, which relocated in April from Dexter to Blockbuster’s former spot in the south-side strip mall. With online streaming, Red Box, and Netflix taking a bigger piece of the video pie, physical storefronts seem near extinction. But “a lot of people like to come in and look,” insists Morris, who says that, when Blockbuster left, Movie Planet’s owners “saw a hole that could be filled … in a bigger community at a bigger location.”

Cathy Swenson, her nephew John McInnes, and John’s wife, Barb, own Movie Planet as well as two Best Entertainment video stores in Pinckney and Hamburg. With twenty-five years in the business, Morris says the stores have built a community following–and several former Dexter customers who work in Chelsea now drop by the new location.

Morris says one edge Movie Planet has over competitors is that most major Hollywood films are offered at the store before Red Box and online options. Most movies are available for one-week rental; new arrivals are limited to two days. Prices on all rentals are less than at Blockbuster, she says: $3.99 for new arrivals (with a $1 credit if returned within twenty-four hours), $2.99 for new releases, and $1.99 for catalog titles. An entire season of a TV show is $5 for a five-day rental. A free kids’ movie comes with any rental. The store offers a large selection of video game rentals for all major game systems. “With summer coming, our video games will do well,” she says.

The new location was painted, a filmstrip motif was added, and the layout was revamped, making it “less cluttered,” Morris says. And she’s hired a few of the former Blockbuster employees.

Movie Planet, 1145 S. Main, 475-2626, Sun.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Last year, Las Fuentes in Clocktower Commons quietly changed its name to Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant. Manager Gerardo Vega says it’s the “same owner and same menu.” He explains the name change was made to match the other locations; the Pacheco family owns seven Pancho Villas in Virginia and one in North Carolina.

Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant, 350 N. Main, Suite 200 (Clocktower Commons). 475-6092. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Tree of Life Cultural Arts Studio is phasing out its teahouse, Cafe Touba. According to Tree of Life’s website, the group is “looking to sell nearly all of the cafe equipment, as well as a majority of the supplies.”