Albany's end of Solano Avenue has one more empty storefront after , a movie rental shop that's been in Albany since 1980, closed its doors for good on Sunday night in preparation for a move down the street to Berkeley.
Owner Andy Katz said the reason for the move is that the new location—1882 Solano Ave.—will better serve his customers.
"We found a spot that’s absolutely beautiful, well lit, and about 1,000 square feet larger than what we have right now," he said.
Katz, who bought the store in 1988, said the idea of moving has been on his mind for years, since he heard complaints that customers were unable to find the movies they were looking for at the old store, which he described as small and dark.
But it was only recently, when he found out the new location was available for lease, that Katz jumped on the opportunity to relocate.
The new location is about 2,900 square feet which, according to Katz, will give him enough room to display DVDs with the front cover facing outward, so customers can more easily browse his large selection.
"We have about 14,000 to 15,000 titles, and now we have the capacity to add many more," he said.
He added that, in addition to more space, the new store offers two large skylights which will provide customers much better lighting than the previous store.
Katz said that, while he is concerned about losing his Albany customer base, he hopes movie rental fans will check out the new location and continue supporting the store.
"I worry that my customers are going to feel like I abandoned them, but I didn’t," he said. "This move is for them."
Katz didn't say how rent at the new location compares to that of the Albany site, but he did make it clear that the cost of rent was not factor in his decision to move.
Allen Cain, executive director of the , said he is unclear why Katz decided to expand to that particular spot.
"I think that block (1882 Solano Ave. in Berkeley) is a high traffic area, but I also think he had a lot of visibility next to Fonda," Cain said. "I’m not quite sure I understand the move, but I’m hopeful."
Cain pointed out that Five Star Video's new location is just a block away from where Front Row Video used to be located before it was forced to close in December 2010 due to falling sales.
Some Albany Patch readers have noted concerns that Five Star Video's new location is out of walking-distance and is in an area where parking can be hard to find.
Across the street from the video store's new location is the empty Oaks Theater, which . Looking ahead to the future, Cain said that once a new tenant moves into the old Oaks Theater, parking will be even scarcer in that area.
The other possible downside, he said, is that there is only metered parking on the Berkeley stretch of Solano, which may be frustrating to customers.
But Katz said he is confident the decision to move was the best thing for the store and, this week, he is transferring all the DVDs and store equipment to the new location in hopes of being ready to open on Friday.
Since Five Star Video first opened 32 years ago, this is the third time it has moved on Solano Avenue, but it will be the first time the store has left Albany.
It had been at , across the street from and next door to , for 12 years.
Cain said that, while he is happy for Katz, he is more interested in what business will move into Five Star Video's old location.
"I’m more excited about the vacancy and the potential there," he said. "I’m sure there’s someone out there who would want a store next to Fonda."
According to Cain, the Solano Avenue Association usually proactively searches for businesses that would move into empty storefronts on the avenue but, as of now, the association has yet to reach out to any possible tenants for the vacancy.
One of the reasons, said Cain, is that . He said no business would want to move into a store if major construction might start right across the street soon after it opened its doors.
Five Star Video's old location is now the second empty storefront across the street from Safeway, with the other being the long-vacant spot near and the .
News of Five Star Video's move comes just a month after , another Albany institution on Solano, . Earlier this year, after nearly a quarter-century on the avenue.
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