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Total Wireless Taking Root In Family Video Stores

A video rental chain finds added revenue in prepaid mobile plans.

When your main business is video rentals, you’ve got to be creative.

That’s why Family Video, a privately owned chain with 673 stores from Texas to New York, began offering fresh pizza through a sister business seven years ago, and late last year started adding prepaid mobile phones and plans.

The latter, reports mobile industry hotsheet Wave7 Research, are being sold through in-store Total Wireless shops, which are so far located within 14 Family Video locations.

The arrangement, albeit on a smaller scale, takes a page from Sprint, which operated store-within-store sections inside 1,400 RadioShack locations, observed Wave7 principal Jeffrey Moore.

See: Sprint Doubles Store Count With RadioShack Co-Share

Total Wireless is one of 10 prepaid brands under the TracFone Wireless umbrella, which also include Straight Talk, NET10 Wireless, Simple Mobile and PagePlus Cellular. TracFone, owned by Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helú’s América Móvil, is the largest MVNO in the U.S. and maintains 254 standalone Total Wireless stores.

An employee at a Family Video store in Kansas told Wave7 that the Total Wireless shop at her location occupies about one-eighth of the retail selling space, and that more are planned.

Moore said Sprint had similarly arranged to open Boost prepaid shops in Family Video stores in 2015, although that deal fell through.

Family Video, now in its 41st year, describes itself as “the largest movie and game rental chain in the United States.” It also sells used titles. The company is a unit of the family-owned Highland Ventures, led by president Keith Hoogland, which also operates adjacent Marco’s Pizza restaurants; a chain of Digital Doc tech repair shops; Stay Fit 24 fitness centers; and a commercial real estate business. Highland is headquartered in Abt Electronics’ hometown of Glenview, Ill.