Marblehead Community Upset as One of Last Video Rental Stores in Massachusetts Prepares to Close

It has had a leading role in Marblehead, Massachusetts for more than two decades, but the owner of one of the last movie rental stores in the state says it is time to close his doors.

The community says it will be hard to say goodbye.

Chet’s Video and Candy Shoppe has become a staple on Essex Street in Marblehead, offering not just DVD rentals, but also popcorn and candy.

Owner Chet Strout opened it with his family in 1992.

“I used to joke with people and say I was going to be the last guy standing,” Strout said.

Twenty-five years later, the business has kept up with the times, moving from VHS to DVD to Blu Ray, but with the reality that is streaming video, Strout and his wife say it is time to roll the credits.

“I don’t think anyone really thought it was going to go away, that was the fantasy of this business,” Strout's wife Carrie Thomas said. “As much as we have dedicated loyal customers, we just didn’t have enough of them.”

Customers say they will miss the personal touch of the brick and mortar store, including Strout’s movie recommendations, which he calls “Chet’s Picks.”

“It’s not just about the movies itself, it’s about coming here and talking to people,” Shannon McDonald said.

Even though they knew the closing was inevitable, family members who work at the store say it is still a tear-jerker.

“I think there are aspects that will live on, memories and stuff, but it will be really weird not having it here,” Strout’s daughter Melissa Flanagan said.

Until the show is over and the store closes for good at the end of March, Strout is starting to sell some of the 15,000 movies he has in his collection. He says he plans to donate the rest.

His candy business will live on at Orange Leaf Yogurt down the street, where Strout will still have a supporting role working there part-time.

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