Over three decades ago, Gina and John Lee opened the first video rental store in Santa Clarita, and in 2021, they are the last ones remaining.
Gina Lee said Video Depot in Newhall has outlasted the rest by welcoming in their “family” each week.
“Our customers are like family,” Gina said. “If it was only about making money, I would have quit, but we do this all for them.”
The Lees opened Video Depot in 1988, and at the time there were 10s of thousands of video stores across the country.
“We had four locations at one time,” she said. “But over the years, we had to close down three stores.”
Video Depot was the first-ever video rental business in SCV before big names like Blockbuster Video and Hollywood video came to town. Now, the Newhall business is one of the remaining few nationwide alongside the last remaining Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon.
After over a quarter-century in business, Gina has seen many members of her “family” grow up from when they were kids to now bringing in their little ones into the store.
“I have seen people bring their children and even grandchildren back,” she said. “We are very lucky to be in people’s lives.”
In the heyday of video rental, the storefront on Lyons Avenue would be packed with customers checking out the latest titles, but in the past few years business has slowed.
“It is not like it used to be. Sometimes we would buy 50 copies of a movie and rent them all out. Now, it is one or two,” she explained.
To Gina, it is the personal touch that sets Video Depot apart from just browsing streaming services.
“Most people like coming here not for the movie, but the interaction,” she said. “It is much more personal to speak to someone, not just go on your TV.”
Over the years, the Lees had to evolve their business, adding a computer repair shop and notary services. The couple also owns a mail and shipping center next door to Video Depot.
“Some people call other notaries and they never answer. We always pick up the phone,” Gina said.
For all customers who enter the store, are greeted with a smile and are offered something a little extra.
“In my culture from Korea, we always offer something. Whether it’s a water or a candy, gifts are a big part,” she said.
The personal connection goes into everything the Lees do and has kept Video Depot in business well into the streaming era.
In closing, Gina wanted to thank all of her loyal customers that have kept the place going for all of these years.
“I’m so appreciative of the customer,” she said. “This is all for you.”
Video Depot is located at 23636 Lyons Avenue in Newhall. Visit them on Facebook, here
Santa Clarita Gears Up For ‘Bike to Work Challenge’
The City of Santa Clarita invites local businesses and their employees to participate in the annual Bike to Work Challenge.
The week-long challenge begins Monday, May 10, through Friday, May 14. Residents are encouraged to take the online pledge to be entered into a raffle for free prizes.
The Bike to Work Challenge is a competition among Santa Clarita businesses to rally their employees to bike to work and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Businesses that are registered to participate and have the most participation in their size category will win a free lunch to a local restaurant of their choice, according to the City.
Interested businesses are required to designate a “lead rider” who will act as a point of contact for the organization in addition to registering their businesses for Santa Clarita’s Bike to Work Challenge.
Lead riders should register online here and must submit a list of those at their company who participated by May 17 to Laura Jardine, City event coordinator for the Bike to Work Challenge, at (661) 255-4376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In place of pit stops, the City has extended the challenge to a week-long format, giving residents more opportunities to participate and win prizes, including cycling gear, gift certificates and more.
To encourage participants with longer commutes to participate, Santa Clarita Transit will be offering free local rides to anyone with a bike and/or helmet, according to the City.
Third Free Catalytic Converter Etching Event To Be Hosted By SCV Sheriff’s Station
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station is set to host a third free catalytic converter etching event this month after increased thefts in the area.
For the third installment of the event, organizers are offering more dates and an additional location are being offered so that more vehicles can be serviced, according to Deputy Natalie Arriaga, spokesperson for the station.
The SCV Sheriff’s Station, in partnership with Reeves Complete Auto Center and Canyon Muffler in Canyon Country and RG Brake & Alignment in Valencia, is scheduled to host the event on May 11, 18, 25, 26 and 27.
“Help #GuardThatAuto by getting your vehicle’s license plate etched onto its’ catalytic converter,” station officials said in a statement. “Doing so helps deputies locate its original owner in the event it is stolen and recovered.”
In March, over a dozen people were arrested and 250 catalytic converters — valued at about $750,000 — were recovered in an operation on Wednesday, stemming from an investigation in Santa Clarita.
In a proactive approach to lower catalytic converter theft, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Crime Impact Team (CIT) led a search warrant operation on March 10, centered in the City of Los Angeles, according to Arriaga.
“Theft of catalytic converters has been a growing trend in 2020, with a 400% increase throughout Los Angeles County, and a significant increase in the Santa Clarita Valley as well,” Arriaga said at the time.
Catalytic converters are attached to the exhaust system of a vehicle. They contain precious metals and can be “scrapped” for a quick profit, according to the spokesperson.
This event is offered to Santa Clarita Valley residents by appointment, with limited availability, based on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those interested in booking an appointment are encouraged to contact Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Deputy Borbon of Community Relations at email@example.com.
Appointments will only be scheduled by Deputy Borbon and not by the auto centers, according to station officials.
L.A. County Public Library To Reopen 30 Additional Locations On May 10
Los Angeles County Library announced this week it will reopen an additional 30 of its 85 libraries for select in-person service beginning May 10, as the county nears the “yellow” tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
The scheduled reopening will raise the total number of reopened libraries to 60 across L.A. County at 75% capacity, while also maintaining six feet of physical distance for customers.
“In preparation for reopening additional doors to the public, LA County Library is working diligently to ensure safety protocols are met and appropriate preventative measures are in place,” officials said in a statement.
The additional libraries that are scheduled to reopen are part of a phased reopening plan that prioritizes library openings based on geographic location, building availability, and the ability to accommodate physical distance guidelines and Public Health protocols. The library has placed an emphasis on equity with special consideration for reopening libraries in underserved areas where residents prioritize in-person services.
The additional libraries that are scheduled to reopen starting May 10 include Acton Agua Dulce Library, Castaic Library and Topanga Library, among others.
Additional libraries across the county will be added to the library’s reopening plan.
On April 19, L.A. County Library reopened its first 30 locations including Stevenson Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as Lancaster, and Quartz Hill in the Antelope Valley.
Outdoor programming for a limited number of participants will begin in early summer 2021 and will be available at select libraries.
Sidewalk service and book drops will remain available at participating libraries. L.A. County Library continues to offer enhanced digital offerings, including a temporary digital library card to access eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, online classes and more.
To view the current list of reopened libraries, visit the library reopening page here.
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