The Video Store Days: A Hollywood Video Story

I worked for Hollywood Video for 4 and a half years and this is just one of many stories I have to tell.

Hollywood Video was a big part of my cinematic journey. While we didn’t have any near my house until 2000, there were some a bit of a drive from my house. My father would take me to the one that was closest to our house where I would spend an hour or so going through all the videos they had in their middle sections (the old movies). Each Hollywood Video would have different videos in their old sections but they always had a ton. Just imagine a normal video store but instead of having their videos face out so you can see the front, they were all set up like books with their spines out. This meant more videos in the same space as other video stores. 

Hollywood Video also had a policy that they would keep the majority of their videos instead of selling them off. Most video stores, to save space, would sell off the videos that weren’t selling. Anyone alive during The Video Store Days knows that every endcap and table in a video store was loaded with used, or “previously used” videos, all marked for a vastly reduced price. 

I started working for Hollywood Video on March 18th, 2002. How do I know that? It was the day that Sony released SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW on DVD. The store I worked for was located in a very rich part of town in Tennessee where all the country western stars lived. I met so many of these stars that I couldn’t name them all. The ones who came in all the time included Tim McGraw, his wife Faith Hill (whose driver’s license had her married name Faith McGraw), and the model Nikki Taylor. All these stars were very nice and we tried to keep their names on the down low. I remember the first time I met Nikki Taylor, I asked her if she was the model with the same name. She said she was but asked me to not tell anyone. I did what she asked and she would rely on me to give her recommendations. When I moved out of the state, Miss Taylor was saddened but wished me well. 

Working at this particular Hollywood Video was a lot of fun but I didn’t run into some trouble. A few months after I started working for the company, I answered the ringing phone one evening. On the other end was a lady from corporate who said that she was on the other line with a lady who had bought a few DVDs from us (SPIDER-MAN and some other film) and she wanted to return them because her grandson, for whom she bought the DVDs for, had died a few weeks prior and she didn’t have a receipt. I put her on hold and spoke to the manager on duty. He said that was fine and I confirmed this with the lady on the phone. 

About an hour or so later, a lady entered the store. She walked over to the new DVDs and grabbed two DVDs off the shelf. She came up to the counter where she told me the same story that the lady on the phone told me. I found it kind of odd that she didn’t have the DVDs in her hand when she walked into the store and I brought it up with the manager on duty. He said that she walked over there to see if we had something in stock and that she did in fact walk in with the DVDs she was presenting to us. I took him at his word and continued with the return. 

As I was processing the return, the lady told me that she had paid for retail ($29.99 for each DVD). I found this odd as we didn’t sell these DVDs for full retail. The highest price was $24.99 but they had been on sale for $19.99 since their release. I brought this up with the manager and he told me to change the price. I did as I was told and the lady was out the door a few minutes later. After the lady left, the manager on duty informed me that I had just been scammed. 

I was rightfully pissed and asked him why he let me go through with the return and he told me “Because you need to learn.” A few days later, I was contacted by the police and asked to answer some questions when I got to work where they would be waiting for me. I spoke to the police for about ten minutes or so and I told them everything that happened including the stuff about the manager on duty. They told me that the lady was the one who was on the phone and that they had already caught her. She tried to scam the gas station that was right around the corner from the store. I asked the police if I needed to testify about what happened and they told me they would let me know. They never contacted me again.

After this incident, I was worried about losing my job. I had let this lady walk out with $60 plus and I was certain I was going to be fired. I spoke to the store manager who told me that she was not going to fire me but the decision wasn’t up to her. It was up to the district manager. The next day, on my day off, I got a call from the district manager. He asked if I was free, which I told him I was. He asked for my address which I gave to him. He said he was coming to pick me up so he could take me to lunch and talk about what happened.

We went to a restaurant I had never heard of before and can't remember now. They had good food and the DM (district manager) told me to order whatever I wanted. I went with the chicken fingers as that is always the safest option and they don't cost that much. If someone tells me to "order whatever you want" I never go with the most expensive items. That's rude and I wasn't raised like that. 

The DM asked me to tell him what happened and not to leave out any details. As I told him, he would stop me on occasion to ask a question. Sometimes the question was about something that he wanted me to elaborate on and sometimes they were questions about me and my feelings at the time. He seemed genuinely concerned with my fear of being fired. 

After I finished with the events, he told me that he wasn't going to fire me. He said that what happened could have happened to anyone at the store and that I should take it as a learning experience which I had already. He then explained to me what happened as the police had told him. They said that everything I said was true. The lady on the phone from corporate and the lady who came into the store were one and the same. The interaction I had with the lady and the manager on duty was exactly as I had explained. He said that asking the manager on duty about different things during the event was what saved my job. Had I gone through with the return on my own, he would have fired me the next day.

We finished up with the lunch and the DM took me home. I thanked him, not only for the lunch but also for not firing me. He gave me one piece of advice: if corporate calls and tells me to do something that I don't think is right, ask for that person's name, hang up the phone, and call corporate back. If the person is who they say they are then corporate will transfer me to them which means it is for real. For the rest of my time with Hollywood Video, I did just that on numerous occasions. There were a few times when the person would hang up after I asked for their name which meant that was another bullet dodged.

This is one of many stories I have from my time at Hollywood Video. I will be telling more in the future. Thank you for reading.

Post a Comment