| 03.19.2018

A local treasure lives on – Howard Hughes Video is transitioning into a cooperatively-owned business

Howard Hughes Video is a rarity to Moscow, with the disappearance of similar stores over the years. Yet for over 20 years, the film-loving community members of Moscow have rented movies from the Main Street video store.

Early last year, however, the owners decided it was time to move on.

Yet current manager Ian Pannkuk said the owners were determined not to let that be the end of Howard Hughes.

Austin Maas | Argonaut
Benjamin Hardcastle, co-manager of recently-incorporated Howard Hughes Video, stocks shelves Wednesday evening.

“They (the owners) are in a place in their lives where they might be thinking about moving, and there just aren”t that many people that are interested in buying a whole movie store,” Pannkuk said. “Being incorporated is really the best option.”

As of Dec. 4, Howard Hughes officially became a co-op when the board of directors signed the bylaws. The co-op will begin operating under its new name, The Main Street Video Cooperative, by March. Pannkuk said that will be their soft deadline to raise $60,000 to ensure the store can remain a cooperative.

“Right now we are just trying to put the word out there, and sell memberships,” Pannkuk said.

The transition from business to co-op didn”t happen overnight. The owners announced early last year they were exploring options for restructuring the store, and were seeking community members interested in taking over the project.

University of Idaho law professor Monique Lillard, a long-time customer of Howard Hughes, said she heard the news and became interested. She said she invited other Moscow residents to her home to discuss what could be done to keep the store afloat.

“I had become really aware that the store is a treasure to Moscow and it was something that I didn”t want to go away,” Lillard said.

The driving force behind the transition to a cooperative, Lillard said, came when Melinda Schab, general manager of the Moscow Food Co-op, got involved.

Schab, now the Main Street Video Co-op president, said the owners initially traveled down many roads before arriving at the idea of making the video store into a cooperative.

“I eat, sleep and breathe co-op,” Schab said. “In passing, one day I just said, “maybe we should consider converting the store to a cooperative ownership.””

The idea was left on the table for the owners, and eventually, the decision was made that the video store should be run as a cooperative. After the decision was made, the administrative and legal work for the board of directors began.

The board”s main goal is to make sure all community members who would like to be a part of the cooperative have the opportunity.

The cooperative is currently selling equity investments and looking for three hundred investors. A single investment paid in full is $200. Eight payments of $25 can be made on a quarterly or annual basis.

Main Street Cooperative Video”s board of directors thought it would be best to create payment plans for those who want to invest, but do not have the exact funds right away, such as university students who live in Moscow.

“If you care about the Moscow community, it is in everyone”s best interest to support local business in any way you can,” Schab said.

Lillard said investing in the cooperative is both an investment in the store as well as Moscow as a whole.

Much like Lillard and other community members who have invested in the cooperative, Schab too says that the video store is a large part of Moscow”s history.

“The video store is a piece of the community”s history first and foremost,” Schab said. “I believe that the stronger the cooperative community here, the stronger and the more enduring it will be.”

Hailey Stewart can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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