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Employees raise money to buy popular video store

By Jessica Arp, jarp@wisctv.com
Published On: Mar 23 2014 09:21:36 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 24 2014 09:26:19 AM CDT

A Madison institution is asking for help from the community to stay in business.

MADISON, Wis. -

A Madison institution is asking for help from the community to stay in business.

Four Star Video Heaven has been renting movies downtown for decades. The store's current owner wants to move on, and now five employees have banded together to try to buy the store.

The group has started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $50,000 by the end of April, when the lease on the State Street building must be renegotiated.

For employees familiar with movies, they realize their plight could be the plot of a film itself.

"'Empire Records' is almost the exact situation we're in," said Lewis Peterson, one of the five trying to buy the business. "Doom is coming down from the sky, and you have to get some amount of money somehow."

The store boasts more than 23,000 DVD titles of everything from hits to obscure foreign films, and that's why employees say they're committed to keeping the doors open.

"Basically the same reason that we work here," said Andy Fox, an employee at the store for two years. "As customers we kind of fell in love with the place and the amazing collection of films that you just can't find anywhere else."

The group says the store is profitable for that reason, despite popular video streaming services. Customers seem to agree.

"I like to have a brick and mortar store, a place I can come actually pick up the cases and look at them," said Jessie Hanz, who was shopping for movies Saturday. "You can't do that online."

If the money isn't raised, the DVD collection will likely be liquidated. But don't count out a Hollywood ending.

"It's looking like we will probably be able to do it," Fox said. "We're just trying to gather as much support as possible so we can keep this place open."

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