ST. ALBANS CITY –– If you enjoy good conversation, especially good conversation about movies and video games – of all types, from all eras – meet Dan Bathalon.
Dan owns Planet Video, a retro gaming store that also includes movies, and while some might think the era of online gaming and Netflix has hurt the video game and movie market, Dan says business is good at Planet Video.
“There was a need for this, here, in Franklin County, because I’m busy,” Dan said recently, while standing under an oversized Nintendo sign inside his store – one of the many cool, retro-feeling items that adorns it. “I sell and buy merchandise every day,” he said.
Dan buys and resells everything used, which helps keep the cost down for his customers, and he estimates he has about 5,000 movies (Blue Ray and DVD) and 2,500 games in stock. He guesses his gaming inventory will catch up to his inventory soon, because the gaming aspect is the main draw for customers, he said.
Dan carries consoles, games, paddles and other accessories for everything from the first early-‘80s Atari and Intellivision sets, up to the Xbox 360 and Ps3. He promises products in good condition, too; he personally tests and cleans every game, movie and piece of equipment before it goes on his shelves.
“Ps4 games and systems are slowly trickling in,” Dan said.
To keep from buying stolen goods, Planet Video does not buy any electronic or high-priced products without a picture ID and a signature on a form that vows the items are not stolen.
“I don’t take anything from anyone that does not have a picture ID,” Dan said. He also has security cameras on the premises.
Dan opened Planet Video in Hungerford Plaza, on St. Albans City’s Main Street, earlier this year. He initially planned to open the store somewhere in South Burlington, after a longtime business similar to Planet Video shut its doors last year.
“Rent was way more reasonable in St. Albans,” Dan said, explaining his choice to open Planet Video locally. “My landlord, Tom Hungerford, provides an affordable rent for a small, first-time business owner, and I’m very grateful. And when I chose to open here, I had no idea that the Blockbuster (formerly near Price Chopper, in St. Albans Town) was closing.”
Dan grew up in the Newport area and graduated from North Country Union High School in 1989. He always had “a knack for sales and a gift for gab,” he said.
“I like visiting with people,” he said. “I like interacting with people.”
Dan has worked in sales and has previously owned other businesses, in including a mobile DJ service in the mid-1990s and, in the same decade, a business in which he sold gift products to stores and hospitals.
Dan said he honed his sales skills while he worked for The Edge Sports & Fitness, in Burlington, for 10 years, ending his tenure there as membership director.
“I loved it,” he said.
After sustaining a work-related injury last November, while working for a large entity, Dan decided he wanted to work for himself again.
Dan said he has already made some “great friendships” through Planet Video. He likes his location and, “in a perfect world,” would like to retire someday while running Planet Video from its current location.
“Sometimes, people just come by to visit,” he said, “which I love.”