Soon, the corner of 19th and Haskell won't be quite so miraculous.
The owner of the longtime East Lawrence fixture Miracle Video has announced the store will close by the end of the year.
"It is just the changing nature of distribution," said owner Don Jochems. "There is so much Red Box, Netflix, Internet streaming. I personally feel people are trading quality for convenience. It is the same thing that has happened with record shops and bookstores."
Jochems thinks the video store, 1910 Haskell Ave., has been in business for about 25 years, although he admits that with dates, he's kind of like Nicolas Cage with a monologue — not good.
If you remember, Miracle Video actually started out in North Lawrence in a tiny, tiny building next to one of the gas stations on North Second Street. (VHS players were almost bigger than the building back in those days.) Then the store expanded over to the East Lawrence corner of 19th and Haskell about 15 years ago, Jochems estimates.
"When the business first started, I didn't know a single person who owned a VCR, and a lot of them cost $600 or more to buy," said Jochems, who has owned the business for the last eight years but managed it for about 15 years prior.
Then video stores started popping up everywhere. But technology has caused the industry to shift again, and now the industry has become a bit like a Kevin Costner accent — tough to recognize. Jochems said to his knowledge the only true video stores left in town are Family Video at 23rd and Louisiana, Hastings at 23rd and Iowa, and the granddaddy of the Lawrence video scene, Liberty Hall in downtown.
Jochems notes the Lawrence Public Library has become a pretty big player in the video market too, although he said he doesn't think that has had much of an impact on his business.
"That really has always been for more of the library crowd," Jochems said.
That perhaps isn't the best way to describe Miracle Videos' niche. It carried new releases like everybody else, but Jochems said the store always tried to be a leader in carrying off beat films and cult classics. Plus, let's not ignore the elephant in the room any longer, the store also had a reputation of being one of the larger adult video stores in the city, Jochems said.
"People wanted it, so we carried it," Jochems said.
Jochems said the store could close as early as Dec. 1. He said part of it will be dependent on how quickly the store sells its inventory. He estimates there are 15,000 movies that have been part of his rental inventory that he is now putting up for sale, with prices starting at a dollar for many titles.
"It is a sad note, but I'm a little relieved that I've made the decision," said Jochems, who isn't sure what he'll do in the future. "I just don't see it getting better at this point, unless there is some sort of miraculous thing like how vinyl records got popular with the kids again."
In other news and notes around town:
• For all you K-10 commuters, If news of Miracle Video's closing has left your stomach feeling like the plot of an Adam Sandler movie — empty — there's news on the fast food front. McDonald's will be opening its new store along Kansas Highway 10 in De Soto on Thursday morning. A spokesman with Lawrence-based Dobski & Associates — the owner of the McDonald's store — said the restaurant will open at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday morning. The new 89-seat restaurant — which replaces a 22-year old McDonald's restaurant — will have dual drive-thru lanes and a more modern design.
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This is fair warning to all you K-10 commuters who may stop at the McDonald’s in De Soto to get your morning caffeine fix: By Thursday morning, the restaurant will be rubble. (Perhaps like you without caffeine.)
Lawrence-based Dobski & Associates, the owner of the area McDonald’s franchise, has confirmed it will tear down the De Soto store on Thursday morning and begin building a larger McDonald’s that is expected to open in late September.
The new store will have seating for 89 people, up from 40 in the current restaurant. Other design features:
• Free Wi-Fi Internet service and a host of electrical outlets designed for customers to recharge their laptops.
• A side-by-side double drive-thru window system to increase drive-thru capacity.
• A special third window designed to serve customers who have to wait for a special order. (Perhaps caffeine-laced french fries. They can’t do that, can they?)
Michael Dobski, owner/operator of the De Soto location and son of Dobski & Associate founders Tom and Marilyn Dobski, said the De Soto restaurant was 22 years old and the decision was made that the restaurant needed an expansion and update.
The store has about 30 employees, and Dobski spokesman Patrick Manning said those employees will be transferred to other Dobski-owned McDonald's restaurants during the construction period.
The new restaurant will be on the same site as the current McDonald’s, which is along Kansas Highway 10, just east of the primary De Soto interchange.