In wake of TLA Video's decision not to open a branch at Penn, University officials and student leaders have already started the search for another video retailer. Members of the Undergraduate Assembly and Penn officials agreed last week they would try to lure a chain video rental store to campus after having difficulty locating another independent store. Tom Lussenhop, the University's top real estate official, said he has begun negotiating with several large national chains, including Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. He added that the University will hopefully have a new video store by the fall, calling that target "optimistic." "Right now, students still crave movies," said UA Chairman Michael Silver, who met with the University to present the group's recommendations for a new campus video operation. "TLA would have been awesome, but it's not happening," Silver said last week. "The only choice we have is a chain." The Philadelphia-based TLA had been in talks with the University since September, when both parties showed an interest in filling the vacant store adjacent to the Eat at Joe's diner on the 3900 block of Walnut Street. But following a boom in the eclectic distributor's online sales and speculation of old-fashioned video rental becoming obsolete, they opted not to come to Penn. Students have repeatedly asked for more video options on campus -- a request the UA hopes to fulfill through its work with the University. "In the area of campus retail and social options, this is the priority for the UA," said Silver, a College senior. Lussenhop, who solicited the UA's input, said "this will be a good opportunity for the UA leadership to get more involved. They're part of the process." He added that UA members will meet with representatives from each of the chains during negotiations. UA video store recommendations include support from a 1998 student survey and criticism of the current video rental option -- Video Library on the 40th block of Locust Street. According to a UA statement, the 1998 UA 40th Street Developmental Survey showed that 53 percent of 470 students polled expressed interest in a late-night video store, while anecdotal evidence -- especially freshmen input -- also supports another store. In its recommendations, the UA complained that the Video Library -- which closes at 10 p.m. on weeknights and Saturdays -- lacks accessibility and selection. "Video Library doesn't cut it," said Silver. 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 activities on campus. Silver said he told Lussenhop that students would welcome a national video chain to campus, despite student complaints that the campus is starting to resemble a mall. UA member Molly Siems, a College freshman, participated in last week's meeting, as representative of the first-year perspective. "It'd be a good idea to have one of the bigger names in a more visible space [for freshmen]," Siems said. The University will first show retailers the empty space next to Eat at Joe's, followed by other locations along 40th and Walnut streets, according to Lussenhop.Comments powered by Disqus
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