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Video Magic closes after 38 years in Minot

Jill Schramm/MDN Jan and Rick Bonebrake stand outside their store, Video Magic, in its final sale days Aug. 10. They are closing Video Magic, the last video store of its kind in Minot.

Rick and Jan Bonebrake’s decision to close Video Magic this month ends a long run of video enjoyment in Minot and leaves a hole in the community.

Video Magic, in business for 38 years, was the last video store of its kind to operate in Minot and one of a vanishing breed. About 86% of 15,300 video stores that existed in 2007 had disappeared by 2016, according to government business data cited in a USA Today report. In Minot, only a video kiosk business remains in the standalone retail market.

The Bonebrakes said Video Magic held its own against streaming video services and other competition in recent years. However, fewer movies being made – due in part to COVID-19 – don’t bode well for a business that thrives on new releases. The Bonebrakes reasoned the best time to close is before the impact is felt.

Customers will be glad to know, though, that Rick Bonebrake will continue to maintain the service of transferring videos to DVDs. Artmain in downtown Minot will provide a dropbox/pickup site.

Rick and Jan said the highlight of their years in business was getting to know their customers.

Jill Schramm/MDN Jan and Rick Bonebrake and daughter Adie, center, stand in Video Magic, which had nearly closed out its inventory on Aug. 10, as they say good-bye to loyal customers.

“It was kind of a fun business,” Rick Bonebrake said.

“We had a lot of fun,” Jan Bonebrake agreed.

The store opened in August 1982 as Minot’s first standalone store specializing in video rentals.

Rick Bonebrake’s uncle who owned a video store in Texas had wanted to open one in Minot. Bonebrake, having been laid off from his job with Burlington Northern, partnered with him to open Video Magic.

Before Rick and Jan married, Jan was working at the store as an employee. Employees have numbered around 100 over the years.

Jan Bonebrake said employee turnover was low. College freshmen would take jobs and stay their four years of schooling.

“We were lucky,” she said. “We always had really good employees. We always said we couldn’t have done it without them.”

Since announcing the pending closure, the Bonebrakes have done a blockbuster business in selling their movie and game collection. They made the announcement on Facebook on July 27 at 1 p.m.

“A couple hours later, we had a line going out the door,” Rick Bonebrake said.

The Bonebrakes anticipated closing by mid-August based on how quickly their inventory was depleting. “Game of Thrones” had been a highly popular series, and those videos sold fast, along with children’s movies.

The Bonebrakes recalled “Heat,” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, produced in 2013, had been among the hottest movies in the rental business.

“We stocked over 100 copies,” Rick Bonebrake said.

The store originally rented VHS and Beta movies and Atari 2600 games. In the late 1990s, the first DVDs appeared, and about five years later, the blu-rays came, followed by 4K. Less popular formats also came and went. Between movies and games, there’s been at least 20 different formats over the years, Rick Bonebrake said.

What really launched the business in the early days was renting and selling VCRs, he said. Video Magic would rent 50 to 70 VCRs on weekends. A full-service video store, Video Magic offered video transfer, disc repair, sold movie snacks and at one time rented videocameras.

The store carried up to 17,000 titles at its peak and built a base of loyal customers who will miss having it around.

“We’ve had a lot of people stopping in to say good-bye,” Jan Bonebrake said. “We’re happy that we had 38 years in the video business. A lot of video stores don’t last that long. We’re really happy we did.”

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