A Hood River video store owner is facing a late fee of the most serious kind.
Encore Video on the Heights is in danger of closing next week following seizure by Hood River County Sheriff's Department of most of the store's DVDs, all available Blu-Ray units and computer games.
"Barring some kind of an angel, God intervening, the store will probably be closed by the end of the next week," said owner Cheryl Herman, unless she can come up with $75,000 to pay off her debt to the Portland-based media company Rentrak.
Herman had owed $124,000 to Rentrak after she fell behind on payments in a revenue-sharing agreement made in 2008. Rentrak filed a complaint in Multnomah County courts, which ordered the merchandise be seized.
"I made a poor business decision in 2008," Herman said, "a revenue-sharing program that I got in over my head with, and between fees and penalties they ended up getting a judgment for $124,000."
All of the new releases and catalog DVDs and games she had in stock were removed April 8-9, and Rentrak has since offered to accept $75,000 if Herman can come up with it by Wednesday. A court-ordered sheriff's sale is scheduled for Thursday.
"I've been trying to find a way. If I could find someone with $75,000; but I can't find anyone with $75,000 to invest in a video store," Herman said.
The VHS catalog was untouched, leading many customers to "dust off their VCRs" and rent the tapes as a way to help keep the business going, Herman said
What supporters have come up with are their own DVDs for her to use to rent.
"When people started finding out Saturday what was going on, they started dropping off videos to put in the store, so we would have some stuff on the shelf," Herman said. Herman said her children cleared off their shelves at home.
The Dalles Video loaned her 1,600 videos and helped out at the store on April 9.
"It's kind of amazing how much we've been able to fill back in," Herman said, adding that "business had been picking up every month since we moved into the location." In May 2010 Encore moved from its longtime home on Tucker Road (now The Next Door Inc.) a few blocks north next to Rosauers.
"There's been a lot of support and prayers from the community. It's amazing how much we've got," Herman said.
Kyra Rudhe of Hood River said Thursday she had 200 DVDs at home she would bring in for Herman to rent out.
"I just want to do whatever I can to help. This small business is a real asset to the community. Our family has grown up with this video store. I would hate to see it go away. And Cheryl is a truly wonderful person," Rudhe said.
"I love this community," said Herman, who bought the store from Rod Ninomiya in 2007.
"I don't want to close the store," Herman said. "We'd lose the home if I can't run the business because we can't pay the second mortgage without the income from the store.
"$75,000 is the difference between the business continuing on, and it's been flourishing," Herman said.
Rentrak officials were contacted but declined to comment because it is "continuing litigation."
Herman said "I offered to give up the games and new releases, and allow me to have the catalog titles back and the TV wall so I could go ahead and put stuff back on the shelves and make payments, and they said no."