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Video victory.

North Little Rock's Family Video Centers Aiming Beyond U.S. Borders

Vincent Insalaco traded his political pinstripes for a comfortable cardigan when he opened the first Family Video Center.

An assistant secretary of state under Paul Riviere from 1980 until 1984, Insalaco managed Riviere's unsuccessful bid to replace Ed Bethune in Congress. Riviere was defeated in the 1984 Democratic primary by then Pulaski County Sheriff Tommy Robinson.

Insalaco followed Riviere's May defeat with short but arduous stint on Sen. David Pryor's '84 re-election campaign staff. Pryor defeated Bethune.

That political season was enough to convince Insalaco he could find a less stressful line of work.

"I was exhausted," says Insalaco, 38. "I had been through a lot emotionally. Essentially, the only time I would see my children was on Saturday mornings. On my way to campaign headquarters, I would stop at a video store, pick up a couple of movies with them and drop them off at my in-laws."

One trip to the video store stands out in Insalaco's mind.

Standing next to his daughter as she picked up a copy of "Cinderella," he saw a copy of an X-rated film on the same shelf.

That, and the encouragement of his wife, Sally, a professional dancer, was all Insalaco needed.

"One day, I came home and told her, 'I can do much better than this. I can't believe how these stores are run.'"

The first Family Video Store opened shortly after Thanksgiving in 1984.

"The industry was new at the time," Insalaco says. "I never wanted to just open a video store and run it. I wanted to build a business."

Insalaco and his wife ran the first store together. They viewed it as an opportunity to try new things. One of those "new things" was keeping the store open on Christmas Day.

"Everybody thought we were scrooges," Insalaco says.

The couple got an indication of how successful they would be that Christmas Day. They arrived at the store to find a long line of customers outside, all waiting to rent videos.

"I was flabbergasted," he says. "The store had been open for only a few weeks, so it's not like we were experts."

Business Booming

A second store followed in June 1985. A third store was opened later that year.

By 1988, Family Video Centers Inc. of North Little Rock had nine locations in Pulaski County and another in Hot Springs.

Insalaco, no stranger to pressure thanks to his political career, has seen the business endure even though some similar efforts have failed in Arkansas. His primary competition consists of national chains.

"I've seen a lot of comrades in this field go out of business, and I'm real sad about that," Insalaco says. "We are very aggressive, real sales oriented. It's rare that you see video chains advertise on TV. We regularly do that."

Insalaco isn't about to let the recent upheaval in the former Soviet Union upset his plans to expand into that part of the world. He's sending a member of his staff, Dale Cullins, to Moscow later this month to coordinate the opening of two Family Video Centers. The first will be on Red Square.

"It's going to be the first Western-style video store in Russia," says Insalaco, who has been planning the venture for 2 1/2 years with Little Rock attorney Graham Catlett. "When we do it, we're going to do it right."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business of the Year: Category II; Family Video Centers Inc.
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jan 13, 1992
Words:569
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