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Long Beach’s Broadway Video survives in a streaming world

Broadway Video Long Beach

Broadway Video owner Steve Tsepelis stands in the store’s section that’s devoted to queer movies. Photos: Q Voice News.

LONG BEACH — Broadway Video  — Long Beach’s oldest video store — opened its doors at a time when Beta and VHS videotapes were the dominant home-entertainment technologies.

Almost 40 years later, those formats have expired and been replaced by discs and the information superhighway

Broadway Video, on the other hand, has survived in a streaming world.

“I have a sense of pride in this place,” says owner Steve Tsepelis. “We outlived Blockbuster and all the other video stores.

“We are getting new customers all the time,” he says.

Tsepelis, who identifies as gay and was assistant manager in 2000 and promoted to manager in 2007, bought Broadway Video Oct. 1, 2017. Tsepelis purchased the business from Tom Bailey and Carl Detweiler, the local gay couple who previously had owned the store for a decade.

Broadway Video — with a massive catalog of more than 25,000 movies, including a vast selection of queer titles — opened at the intersection of Broadway and Redondo Avenue in 1980 and has become an iconic business in the neighborhood and the city.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Tsepelis talks about how Broadway Video has stayed open for 38 years and survived in a streaming world.

Broadway Video Long Beach

Broadway Video, which opened in 1980, has more than 25,000 movies. Many of the titles are not available at Redbox or on Netflix. Among its collection, the store has a vast selection of queer movies.

Here are some excerpts.

New releases first

“We get new releases before Redbox, Netflix, and other streaming services,” Tsepelis says. “There’s a 30-day waiting period to rent movies from those services, but we get them first with no waiting period.”

Cheaper than streaming

“For families, we are more economical,” Tsepelis says. “If a family has three or four kids, streaming is pricey. Streaming averages about $7 per movie Our prices are cheaper, $3.25 for three days.

“You can keep our movies for three days, not 24 hours,” he says.

Better selection

“We have a superior selection to anyone, more than 25,000 movies, including a large selection of LGBTQ movies,” Tsepelis says. “We have a lot so of movies you can’t stream or find at Redbox.”

Classics

“A lot of Disney classics are not available online,” Tsepelis says. “When a sequel or remake comes out, we do good renting the originals. For example, we’ve been renting ‘A Star Is Born’ with Barbra Streisand.

“When ‘The Force Awakens’ came out a few years ago, we had a clipboard at the front counter that was three pages long of people waiting to rent any of the old ‘Star Wars’ movies.”

Customer service

“People like the customer service,” Tsepelis says. “If there is a problem with a disc, you can bring it back and exchange it for a new one in two minutes. You can’t get that customers service from staring at a screen.”

Also, “When you have repeat customers, you get to know what they like, what movies interest them,” Tsepelis says. “Customers like the interaction of talking with us about what movies are new or if they are looking for a certain genre.”

Video store experience

“Parents will bring their kids into the store,” Tsepelis says. “They like the experience of being surrounded by all the movies.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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