Many local businesses have come and gone since Chet's Video opened on Essex Street, and as the shoppe's owners prepare to celebrate their 20th year in business, they find themselves reflecting on two decades spent strengthening a relationship with the local community.
When Shaquille O'Neal and Columbia Pictures crew members had lunch in owner Chet Strout's backyard during a break from Grown Ups 2 filming last summer, they kept talking about how cool it was that Marblehead still had its own "old-fashioned" video store.
They, like other out-of-towners who first come across Chet's, probably found it hard to believe that a locally-owned DVD rental business could remain profitable in an age of boarded-up Blockbusters and OnDemand rentals.
But Chet's has thrived when others have failed because the shoppe offers much more than just the latest releases - and because Strout and his wife, Carrie Thomas, have turned their small slice of Essex into an after-school hangout for local kids and a nightly destination for Headers out on the town.
In December 1992, Strout and Thomas opened their doors with big hopes, 1,000 VHS tapes and a business model they were sure would succeed: put the emphasis on building a first-name relationship with local customers and throw in a free popcorn with each rental.
Now, 20 years later, they have 14,000 movies, sell an assortment of candy-by-the-pound, custom sodas, incense, LPs and even offer to transfer their customers' old home videos onto DVDs.
It's been their commitment to their customers and a willingness to evolve, Thomas said, that has served the business well over the last two decades and will hopefully carry it forward for many more years to come.
To commemorate their 20 years in busines, Strout and Thomas will be hosting an Open House on Dec. 16, offering $1 rentals, a raffle, wine, goodies and more.
Hot Chet's Rentals in Dec. 1992: Honey I Blew Up the Kid, Leaving Las Vegas, Mr. Baseball
Hot Chet's Rentals in Dec. 2012: The Dark Knight Rises, The Good Doctor, Pitch Perfect
Do you love Chet's? Want to wish them well on their 20th anniversary? Share your message with your neighbors in the comments section below.