Netflix CEO Reed Hastings '85 is not the only Bowdoin alumnus who has made a career in the DVD business. A little closer to campus is Bart D'Alauro '95, the co-owner of Bart & Greg's DVD Explosion in the Tontine Mall in downtown Brunswick.
Working alongside friend and business partner Greg Morris, D'Alauro has been running Bart & Greg's since the fall of 2002.
D'Alauro was an English major during his time at Bowdoin. Though Film Studies was a fledgling department at the College at this time, D'Alauro was able to take a number of courses on film with Associate Professor of Film Studies Tricia Welsch.
"I also was able to do an independent study on film noir with [Associate Professor of English] Ann Kibbie," he said. "Through that project I discovered all sorts of interesting and unusual things. My interest in film really sparked at Bowdoin."
Outside his coursework D'Alauro fed his film interest through participation in the Bowdoin Film Society and frequent trips to an independent video store in Brunswick: Matt & Dave's Video Adventure.
In addition to his passion for media arts and production, D' Alauro also has a deep interest in music. D'Alauro worked as station manager for Bowdoin's radio station, WBOR 91.1 FM, during his junior year. It was through WBOR that D'Alauro first met Morris, a local Brunswick resident.
"Greg was a fan of one of the shows I did. He would call in often and we had him on air as a guest a few times," said D'Alauro.
After graduating from Bowdoin in 1995, D'Alauro decided to stay in Brunswick. He worked alongside Morris at Matt & Dave's Video Adventure until 1997, when he moved to New York City to pursue a career in film production. However, after several years in New York, D'Alauro grew tired of the production industry.
"I realized I liked watching films more than I liked making films," he said.
In early 2002, Morris contacted D'Alauro with the prospect of opening an independent DVD store in downtown Brunswick. Matt & Dave's Video Adventure had closed in 1998, largely due to the opening of a chain rental store, Video Galaxy. As DVDs gained increasing popularity, Morris saw an opening for another independent movie rental business.
"Greg and I realized we could open a DVD rental store in Brunswick without a whole lot of capital," said D'Alauro. "We also knew that this town would welcome us."
In September 2002, Bart & Greg's DVD Explosion opened its doors with a collection of 1,000 DVDs. The new business was an instant success within its first year of business, D'Alauro and Morris expanded their space to include the downstairs level of the Tontine Mall. Since this expansion, Bart & Greg's has continued to grow in size. The store now boasts over 15,000 DVDs.
An extensive independent and foreign film collection, along with a more personal atmosphere, has helped Bart & Greg's develop a cult following in the Midcoast area. A Topsham resident and regular customer of the store mentioned the store's quirky personality as one of the reasons he keeps coming back. The use of a regular e-mail newsletter and wooden DVD rental tokens helps differentiate Bart & Greg's from the mainstream movie chains like Blockbuster, he said.
Despite the recent proliferation of large movie rental chains, Internet services like Netflix, and downloadable media, Bart & Greg's has enjoyed "pretty steady" growth since its opening six years ago, according to D'Alauro. He says he has seen a spike in sales during the past fiscal year and attributes this jump to the 2007 closing of the nearby Movie Gallery.
Another important factor of the business has been the loyal patronage of local community members.
"A store like ours wouldn't work just anywhere. Fortunately for us, Brunswick residents are very inclined to support local businesses," said D'Alauro.
D'Alauro also cited the support of the Bowdoin community as another contributing factor to the store's success.
"About 15 percent of our sales can be attributed to Bowdoin-related people: students, faculty, and staff. The fact that [Brunswick] is a college town helps us a great deal," he said. "There are a number of classes that use movies where the professors will tell their students they can find certain films at Bart & Greg's for their coursework."
In the past, the Bowdoin Film Society also invited D'Alauro and Morris to judge the Bowdoin Film Festival.
"We have a great relationshp with the College," said D'Alauro of his alma mater. "There are certain students I see in here all the time."