Merchant of the Month

Jim Haugen sorts returns at Universal Video in Seaside.

“When we started I kept wondering, ‘Is it going to last that long?’ and it has!”

Editor’s note: Universal is fully stocked with your favorite releases on DVD, but video fans who long for the golden age of VHS when Ahhhnold declared, “Ahl be bahck,” Robin Williams made us laugh and cry in countless films, and Bill, Ted and the late George Carlin took us on an excellent adventure can dust off the VCR and take a trip down memory lane at Universal Video in Seaside. The store has tons of titles on VHS for rent. The old rule still applies: Be kind; please rewind.

The whole time. That was us back in April of ‘84, actually (pointing to a picture). This was all books out here at that time and we had subleased the back from a former teacher of ours who owned the bookstore. After about eight months he decided he didn’t want to stay on the coast and moved back to Portland and we bought the bookstore.

When we came down to help George Bouilet open the bookstore, my brother saw the back area and thought it would be a good area for a video store. Probably in that first week George was open two people came in and suggested the same thing and he decided to ask us if we wanted to do it.

He was an English teacher.

I think we sold out the last of the books in 1993. The bookstore was more our parents’ side of the business and the video was ours. They had retired.

It’s steady throughout the year. In the summertime we see a lot more out-of-town trade, but in wintertime, when local people aren’t working as much as in the summer, they rent a lot more movies, so it evens out.

Well, like I said, we’ve been here 31 years and people know we’re here, so that’s helped a lot. Plus, we have one part-time employee, but mostly it’s me or my brother down here in the store, so people know us.

Well, we hope so. You never know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what decisions the studios are going to make as far as videos are concerned, but we’re hoping 10 years at least, because that’s how long I want to be in business. By then it’ll be 40 years, and that’s long enough.

In the Portland area it was more in the late ‘70s; down here ‘84. We got involved before people in this area knew what VCRs were. Maybe only 5 percent of the homes in the Seaside area had them, so we rented a lot of machines at that time. We don’t rent machines any more.

I don’t really have a favorite, but I guess I like to watch comedies, because at the end of a long day in the store you just want to sit and relax.

Open time is about 54 hours, but then extra time, probably close to 64, 65 hours a week.

The last one I saw was “Dark Knight.” Decided I was going to see “Dark Knight” in the theater and after seeing that I thought, “That was good, but I’ve only got a handful of hours every day. I don’t want to spend them in the theater.” Me? I wanna be out enjoying the weather some if I can. We live on this beautiful beach, so I try to get out every day and walk the beach at least an hour a day.

My brother and I live upstairs, so any time we want to see a movie we can come downstairs, grab a movie and take it up to watch. So I guess that’s kind of a perk for us, but most video store owners would have to drive down and get them. Especially during the rainy season — it’s really cool.

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