ENCINO, Calif. -- The Video Software Dealers Association here has established a new organization for independent retailers that will be structured as an autonomous division. Independent supermarket operators with video operations are eligible to join the new group, executives of the association confirmed.
In other VSDA news, the event formerly known as the East Coast Video Show has been renamed the Home Entertainment Retail Expo, and will be held in Baltimore, Sept. 21 and 22. The show had been held in Atlantic City, N.J., for many years.
VSDA's new independent division will be known as 'iGroup' during its start-up phase. IGroup was allocated dedicated funding from VSDA dues and other revenue sources, assigned staff positions, and delegated authority over all current and future VSDA programs, products and services that are intended specifically to meet the needs of independent video retailers, the association reported.
"While the iGroup was designed particularly to meet the needs of independent video specialists, non-specialty retailers, including independent grocers, who are members of VSDA will also be classified as members of iGroup and will be able to take full advantage of iGroup's programs, products and services," Mark Vrieling, owner of Rain City Video, and president of Screenplay, both in Seattle, told SN. Vrieling chairs the iGroup.
"IGroup anticipates that both specialty and non-specialty retailers will receive significant benefits that can improve their efficiency and profitability through its offerings," Vrieling said.
The formation of the iGroup allows independent video retailers "in the trenches" to identify, develop and access the tools and programs that can help them succeed, said Mark Fisher, VSDA's vice president of membership, and former head of the video program at Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Quincy, Mass.
At the same time, formation of iGroup will allow VSDA's staff and board of directors to focus on overall industry priorities, such as its advocacy efforts and its fight against piracy, he said. "All grocers participating in the home video business will benefit from the strengthening of VSDA's concentration and focus."
To lead the iGroup, video industry veteran Frank Lucca has been named director. Lucca was most recently the director of VSDA's member support and Web site development. Previously, he was the owner of the Video Connection stores in New England; a past chair of the New England Chapter of the VSDA; founder of Flagship Entertainment Centers; and chairman of Compass Entertainment, where he counted supermarkets among his clients.
Based in Swansea, Mass., Lucca will lead the iGroup staff with responsibility for communication, education, and recruitment and retention of members, among other duties.
Meanwhile, the recently renamed Home Entertainment Retail Expo, produced by Home Entertainment Events, which is partly owned by VSDA, is getting a new home in Baltimore and an expanded format.
"With the rebranding and relocation of this show, comes a broader focus," Fisher said. "Supermarkets who also deal in music and games will find new exhibitors this year representing these categories."
Because Baltimore is easier to get to than Atlantic City, VSDA is "aggressively" reaching out to potential attendees from supermarket companies and convenience stores that sell or rent entertainment media, he said. The show will feature a stronger educational program, with seminar and panel topics reflecting the wider scope of attendees that are anticipated, he said.
"The improvements that are being made to the programming of this show reflect the growth and expansion of the industry," said Carrie Dieterich, spokeswoman for Home Entertainment Events. "There will be a new focus on other aspects of the industry such as video games, music and Spanish language programming."
Top 10 Supermarket Video Rental Titles
Rank, Last Week: Title (Weeks Out)
1, N: Something's Gotta Give, Columbia
2, N: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, New Line
3, 1: Gothika (1), Warner
4, 2: The Rundown (1), Universal
5, N: Brother Bear, Buena Vista
6, 3: Honey (1), Universal
7, 4: Mona Lisa Smile (3), Paramount
8, 5: School of Rock (4), Paramount
9, 7: The Missing (5), Columbia
10, 6: Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat (2), Universal
N = New
As of April 4, 2004
This chart, tailored for the supermarket video market, is based on information taken from more than 1,000 supermarket rental locations serviced by Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn.