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TLA Video wants to focus on its online ventures, rather than video rental. With its online sales making old-fashioned retail video rental look obsolete, TLA Video has decided opening a store in a long-vacant space near 40th and Walnut streets as the University had previously hoped, according to Penn officials. The Philadelphia-based TLA had been in talks with the University since September, when both parties showed an interest in filling the area near 40th Street that will soon showcase Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas complex and other new retail and entertainment options intended to make the location a destination spot for Philadelphians. "It does not look like the TLA deal will move forward," said John Greenwood, a top official at the University's real estate company. TLA would have operated out of the vacant store adjacent to the Eat at Joe's diner on the 3900 block of Walnut Street. Greenwood said TLA, which runs six retail stores and is now moving toward greater involvement with Internet sales, will not be creating new retail locations anywhere in the near future. "While we feel badly, we still think that the location is terrific," he said, adding that Penn is currently evaluating other music and video retail options for the site. Greenwood noted the difficulty of finding "terrific, eclectic" options like TLA, saying that the University had been contacting the larger Blockbuster video chain in recent years until negotiations began with TLA. Students have repeatedly expressed interest in having more video rental options available on campus. According to an Undergraduate Assembly-sponsored survey conducted in December 1998, 53 percent of 470 students polled expressed an interest in having a late-night video store. UA Chairman Michael Silver made bringing a late-night video store to campus a top UA priority last semester. "It's still, in my mind, a no-brainer that we need a viable video store on campus," the College senior said. TLA struggled with its decision not to open on campus, according to company officials. "We agonized about it," TLA co-owner Eric Moore said, noting that Penn had made a "sweet offer." "It was painful to turn down," he added. Considering time and money, the retail venture would not have made financial sense, according to Moore. TLA's online sales have more than quintupled since last year. This month, the company will likely bring in about $170,000 in gross Internet sales, compared to $30,000 last year. December holiday sales took in $230,000, according to Moore, who predicts that the online business will continue to grow quickly. TLA President Ray Murray said the future of home video is moving in a different direction from video rental. "I think video stores in 10 years won't exist," Murray said yesterday, adding that movie-watchers will eventually view films from the comfort of their home computers. Tom Lussenhop, the University's top real estate official, said that TLA's online focus will shape the type of retail the University seeks in the future. "I sense a market opportunity? for an entrepreneur that takes advantage of the Web," he said. Lussenhop added that he wants a University-community dialogue on how to meet the demand for high-quality video rental, while at the same time staying consistent with technological change. Bringing a late-night video store to campus was a recommendation made last spring by Provost Robert Barchi's Working Group on Alcohol Abuse as a way to provide more non-alcoholic activity options on campus. The only video store currently on campus, the Video Library on the 4000 block of Locust Street, closes at 10 p.m. on weeknights and Saturdays.

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