ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Carr Gottstein Foods here is rolling out a 49-cent-a-night rental strategy on classic movies to all its stores, said Gary Schloss, vice president, grocery and general merchandise. The program has been in place in 15 Carrs Quality Centers since early June and will be extended to its seven Eagle Quality Centers by the end of August, Schloss said. All the company's stores offer video rentals, with inventory ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 tapes. Carr Gottstein's regular rental rates are $2 for new releases and 99 cents for other titles. "This was a new marketing tool for us. It is something that nobody else has done. We are always looking for a new angle, a new gimmick, a new hook for our video department, which is constantly growing," said Schloss. The 49-cent rental strategy was made possible by the lower sell-through pricing on older titles, said Schloss. Even at 49 cents a night, "we can still turn them and make money on them. The classics category has really taken off and become a growing part of our business. We are expanding it more and more," he said. Store inventory levels of the classic movies have gone from 60 to 70 to 100 to 200, he said. "Every week we are bringing in new ones," he said. Some departments have tripled their number of classics, he noted. Among the titles covered by the 49-cent rental rate are "The Maltese Falcon," "West Side Story," "Dr. Zhivago," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca," as well as some more recent movies, including "Blazing Saddles." Some series also are included, like "The Pink Panther" and "The Little Rascals."
"The beauty about this whole program is that we decide if a movie is a classic or not," said
Schloss. The retailer launched the program with newspaper advertising and in-store promotion, including signage and stickers, he said. "When we first kicked off this program, some stores went beyond the normal promotion and put up banners, made in-store announcements, and used other attention-grabbing ideas. When customers walked by, they would see this is something new and exciting and different," he said. The classic tapes are merchandised in their own section within the video department, the same as comedy or horror, he said. Asked if Carr Gottstein might extend the 49-cent program to other categories, Schloss said, "There's always that possibility. We are always looking for new ideas."