Video-to-Go has gone.
The local videotape rental firm that delivered telephone-requested tapes to its customers at drugstores, pizza parlors and other stores near customers' homes told its subscribers yesterday that it was shutting its doors.
"We're closing down," Sam Totah, Video-to-Go's executive vice president, said yesterday. "The video rental business was not making money. It's a volume business. . . . We were counting on volume that didn't materialize."
The year-old Hyattsville firm said that its regular customers totaled 22,000; Erol's Video Club, by contrast -- the largest in the area -- boasts a membership tally of 250,000.
"We're sorry to hear it didn't work out," said Dick Kerin, the general manager of Erol's Video Club. "You have to give it credit for a new innovation, but in reality it just didn't appeal to the majority," he added.
Video-to-Go was innovative in that it didn't require a consumer to go into a store to select a videocassette to rent. Instead, consumers who were Video-to-Go members could get a cassette by calling the company computer, punching in the code number of the movie they wanted on a touch-tone telephone and then designating a pick-up point by punching in another precoded number. The movie would be delivered a day later to any of about 320 local stores, including People's Drugstores, Shakey's restaurants and Woodward & Lothrop Inc. stores.
"We found in our observation that in selecting movies, people don't like to plan ahead," noted Erol's Kerin. "The success in the videocassette recorders has been to let people choose for themselves. A good majority of people like to come into our stores, with no title in mind, and browse and pick a title."
Totah said Video-to-Go will refund membership fees to its members. Lifetime members who paid $49.95 will receive a complete refund, while the annual members who paid $17.95 will receive refunds for the portion of their membership that has yet to expire.