Video chain opening store downtown

James Fenton

FARMINGTON — Movie lovers in search of a copy of "Finding Nemo" or "Jaws" can soon explore an oceanful of used copies downtown.

Workers prepare for the opening of Front Row Seat Used Movies on Wednesday on the corner of West Main Street and North Allen Avenue in downtown Farmington.

Front Row Seat Used Movies will open its doors in about two weeks, offering more than 40,000 used movies in DVD and Blu-ray formats, according to owners Jerry and Tammy Stansbury.

The Stansburys entered the video market with a local store called Video City 28 years ago. They changed the name three years later to Front Row Seat and have kept the name the same ever since, they said.

Unlike the couple's six other video stores — three are in San Juan County — the new location on the corner of Main and Allen will only sell used movies, not rent them.

And the downtown spot isn't actually new. It has been Front Row Seat's offices for more than 20 years.

The couple said every store they operate has been profitable, though they wonder how much longer that will last.

First Row Seat Inc. rose to a high of 11 stores and 120 employees during its heyday in the 1990s and 2000s, he said.

The new downtown location of Front Row Seat Used Movies will feature an inventory of 40,000 movies.

"I'm surprised that we're still profitable," Tammy Stansbury said, chuckling.

The news of the closure of entertainment retailer Hastings — Front Row Seat's primary local competition — came as a surprise, Jerry Stansbury said.

Two months ago, the couple closed their store next to Safeway on the west side of downtown as part of a chain-wide plan to centralize movies for sale at the new downtown store and free up shelves at existing stores for more rentals.

Uncertainty over renewing the 25-year-old store's lease — the Stansburys own all their other store properties — for another five years was also an issue.

"If we had had any indication Hastings would go out of business, we would have certainly stayed in that store and upped our lease," he said.

The success of the couple's video venture through the years — despite the demise of Blockbuster and the rise of online viewing giant Netflix — is due in part to small towns where people enjoy a slower pace of life and can make time for perusing video titles in a store, he said.

Tammy and Jerry Stansbury, owners of Front Row Seat Used Movies, talk with Art Valdez, right, while preparing for their opening on Wednesday at  the corner of West Main Street and North Allen Avenue in Farmington.

Rental movies are recession proof, offering an affordable entertainment option for the whole family, he said. Movie rentals run from $3.97 for new releases to $1.97 for all other titles. Movies sold at the new store will range from $3.95 to $6.95.

"You know, the Internet will take this business over at some point, but people still like to read about the movie, hold it in your hand," he said. "Six or seven years ago, I made the comment then that we would not be in business in five years, and here we are."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

More information

What: Front Row Seat Used Movies

Where: 126 W. Main St. in Farmington

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

More information: Call 505-326-0003