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Rentals removed from Huddle Mart

Kate McClelland | Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Huddle Mart returned the DVDs formerly available for rent to the student government over winter break, Huddle general manager Jim LaBella said, a move that has surprised students attempting to rent movies.

“I actually noticed about a week and half ago when my friends and I tried to rent a movie and we were told that they were no longer available,” sophomore Matt Hire said.

Sophomore Gail Cech had a similar experience.

“I realized that the DVDs were gone a couple of weeks ago when the new stands of Valentine’s Day candy were set up in their place,” Cech said.

Student body president-elect Bob Reish took note of the missing DVDs and decided to make free DVD rentals through student government a part of his platform.

“I saw offering free DVDs as an awesome opportunity to do something great for the student body, as well as providing a way to get students to the second floor of LaFortune by renting them from the student government office,” Reish said.

He said he hopes to have the free DVD rental system up and running at the beginning of next school year.

The student government, Reish said, owns the DVDs because 2004-05 student body president Adam Istvan wanted DVD rentals in the Huddle. The DVDs became available in 2004.

LaBella said the DVDs were no longer a profitable venture for the Huddle.

“We ended up taking them out because interest has gone down since new cable television options became available in the dorms and students began using Netflix,” he said.

The decline in rentals was steep – before other rental options became prevalent among students, the Huddle rented about 200 DVDs a week, but by the end of the fall semester rentals were down to only 10 to 20 per week.

“The DVDs weren’t worthwhile compared to the space we were dedicating to them,” LaBella said. “Since we have such limited space, every last bit of square footage is important.”

Now that the space has been made available, the Huddle plans to institute some big changes.

“We are interested in replacing the DVD section with a selection of health foods,” LaBella said. “I have been talking to a distributor, and we will begin experimenting with the sale of different products.

“We especially want to include gluten-free products, because the availability of gluten-free items has become a major concern for some students on campus. If the health foods don’t work out, we will try something else.”