ATLANTIC CITY -- Suppliers, distributors and retailers attending last month's East Coast Video Show at the Trump Taj Mahal here said street dates must remain viable to preserve a fair and equitable competitive market. Retailer attendance of 6,189 at this year's show was up considerably from last year's 4,200 retailers, according to the show producer and organizer, Expocon Management Associates, Fairfield, Conn. "We need to keep it an even playing field," said Brian McGroggan, photo-video merchandising manager at Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y. Price Chopper released "Jurassic Park" on street date. Other retailers in the chain's market, however, such as Wal-Mart and Blockbuster, were out with the title before Oct. 4, said McGroggan. The breaking of the "Jurassic Park" street date "made us very concerned with what we buy in the future, and how we are going to deal with it," he added. McGroggan said he thought Friday release dates were a good idea because the major push is on weekends, starting Friday night. "The industry has to address the problem because if they don't, guys like us aren't going to sell the product," he added. FoxVideo, Los Angeles, which will release "Speed" tomorrow, will take preventive action against street date violators. The studio will hire some 300 merchandisers to do store checks at mass merchandisers and supermarkets seven days prior to titles' street dates. FoxVideo will give accounts a national 800 number so they can report street-date violations. "Any reported incidence will be acted upon immediately by deploying merchandisers to go out into the field, and make sure product is retrieved," said Joe DiMuro, national director of sales at FoxVideo. Besides employing a brigade of merchandisers to do store audits, FoxVideo will require signed letters of authorization from those distributors who request early delivery of products. "They must state why they want goods early, and who they are for," said DiMuro. "It will be a shared responsibility [to prevent the breaking of street dates] both at conventional distribution, the rack-jobbing community and the supplier," he added.
Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn., recommends studios increase the size of notification stickers on packaged videos, making sure the release date is in bold fluorescent orange letters. "It's part of a better education process that is needed and will get down to store level," said Bill Bryant, assistant vice president of major accounts-special markets at Ingram Entertainment. Joe Amodei, director of East Coast sales at Turner Home Entertainment, Atlanta, agreed that more education is needed. "It's controversial and a hard call because a lot of bigger accounts are not honoring street dates. At the same time, if you have an account that has 1,000 locations, it's hard to police that number of locations. You have departments in supermarkets or mass merchandisers that get product in and put it out. It's confusing to them. There has to be more education involved," Amodei said.