By Kathy Yanchus • REVIEW STAFF
Sean and Carissa Gilbert’s new entrepreneurial venture gives a whole new meaning to the term small business.
As owner/operators of a Planet DVD franchise, the couple has opened three ‘shops,’ tall blue and grey rental kiosks in three different locales: two in Burlington, and one in Waterdown at Waterdown Variety.
Planet DVD is literally a video store in a box, said the Gilberts.
With backgrounds in sales and marketing, technology and administration, the Burlington couple began exploring the idea of the part-time business opportunity after seeing Redbox DVD kiosks in the United States.
“We thought it was a good idea particularly with Blockbuster and Rogers going out of business. Where do you get a DVD to rent now?” said Sean, who works for a computer software company.
After careful research, the Gilberts decided on Planet DVD, their kiosks manufactured by Signifi Solutions in Mississauga. Already, there are hundreds of them dotting the North American landscape.
The Gilberts were persuaded by the quality of the product in terms of its overall appearance, capacity for DVDs – up to 1,400 DVDs and games – and its user-friendliness.
“It also has the best software,” added Sean. “The machine is very well built to be efficient. They have the fastest dispense time in the industry, and the fastest return time. We dispense and return about three times faster than the competition.”
The Signifi kiosks are also completely weatherproof, so they can be located indoors or outdoors and therefore, available 24/7.
To use, it’s as simple as hitting the rent and search buttons on the touchscreen to bring up keyboard. Customers can then search by an actor’s name, by movie title, or sort rentals by different formats, genres or release dates.
“If there’s a movie they’re looking for that’s already been rented, they can add it to their wish list, so then by entering in their email address, once the movie is returned to the kiosk they’ll get an email,” said Carissa, a former realtor.
Everything is paperless; customers pay by credit card, Visa or Mastercard. A debit payment option should be available soon.
Renters can even search online for what’s available in the kiosk, and the company is currently working on the software to allow customers to reserve movies online as well.
The couple chooses all the movies, with an assortment of new releases and old classics.
“We’re going to have regular DVDs, Blu-ray and 3-D Blu-ray and so generally, when a new movie comes out, we’ll have all three types in the kiosk, and if it’s a big title, then we’ll have multiple copies in the kiosk,” said Sean.
Rental fees are $2 a day for a new release DVD; $1.25 a day for an older release (over 90 days); $2.50 a day for a new release Blu-ray or 3-D Blu-ray; and $1.50 a day for an older release (over 90 days) Blu-ray or 3-D Blu-ray.
The Gilberts are starting small with three kiosks, but within two years, hope to have 10 scattered throughout Oakville, Burlington, Waterdown and “fringe areas.”
With 90 per cent of households owning a DVD player, and area Blockbusters doing “over a million dollars in annual revenue” when they closed their doors, the couple believes there’s still a market for DVD rentals.
“The convenience store owners, for the most part, have been very receptive,” said Carissa.
“We’re hoping to fill that gap that’s been left by Blockbuster and Rogers (closing,” said Sean. “Not everybody has the technology in their house to stream, and not everybody wants to buy a DVD.”