A new entertainment store is coming to the former Hastings location.
EntertainMART is opening in early May. The retailer will offer movies, music, video games, comics, toys and memorabilia among other things.
EntertainMART is a part of Vintage Stock, which has been around since 1980. Over the years, Vintage Stock purchased several EntertainMART locations and they liked the name, said Steve Wilcox, vice president of Vintage Stock.
Wilcox said when Hastings went bankrupt, his company had the opportunity to take over some of those locations.
Hastings, however, was in receivership and Vintage Stock couldn’t simply take over operations before liquidation was complete. Hastings closed its St. Joseph store in October 2016. Since then, neighboring stores MC Sports and Radio Shack have announced closings.
Wilcox said Vintage Stock has taken over seven former Hastings locations. The St. Joseph site is its eighth. The company already has hired the St. Joseph Hastings’ former manager, BJ Simpson. In fact, former Hastings employees are running all eight of the stores that are soon to be EntertainMARTs.
“That’s one of the reasons we ended up taking the stores we did,” Wilcox said. “There was an intact staff and they were a high-performing store. That was a big benefit to us.”
Initially, EntertainMART in St. Joseph will hire around 20 people.
“Because (the St. Joseph store) is outside of Kansas City, it will have books and is a bigger footprint (than other EntertainMARTs),” he said. “The goal is to keep expanding. And we have talked about expanding further north of Missouri. Those new stores would be EntertainMARTs.”
Wilcox said his stores are only similar to Hastings’ stores as far as product mix.
“But I think our concept is a lot more up-to-date,” he said.
While other companies strayed from the core of games, movies and music, he said EntertainMART stores offer a much larger selection and include a different type of rental program.
“You can rent almost anything in the store,” Wilcox said. “You can buy or rent. There’s not two separate sections. But rental is a small part of what we do.”
Brick-and-mortar stores, especially in the entertainment industry, have been closing in the last few years. Online sales and streaming have made the biggest impact. But Wilcox said Vintage Stock still is competing and expanding in the face of that.
EntertainMART is headquartered in Joplin, Missouri. It originally was called Book Barn and sold used books, according to its website. The company diversified to include other new and pre-owned products, including music, movies, video games, sports collectibles, trading cards, games, comics and toys.
In 2002, Vintage Stock was acquired by a group led by Wilcox, Rodney Spriggs and Ken Caviness. The group has continued to expand in new markets like Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Topeka, Kansas, and St. Louis.
The company has more than 40 locations in five states. Wilcox said that the company purchased a couple of Borders locations in St. Louis after those stores closed, and it also acquired Movie Trading Company in the Dallas area from Blockbuster.
“Part of our expansion is at the expense of some of our former competitors,” Wilcox said. “We continue to push what we have to make a visit to our store a very positive experience. It’s an adventure. We have an online presence, but we want people to come in the stores.”