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Reel Inc. to sell, rent vids online

San Francisco’s Reel Inc. has opened a World Wide Web-based venue for buying and renting videotapes.

The online store, at http://www.reel.com, said it’s aiming the service at rural and small-town auds unable to obtain hard-to-find titles in their local retail stores. That’s much the same strategy that’s been touted by online bookseller Amazon, which recently launched its initial public offering.

Reel says it offers 35,000 titles for rent. Customers can rent as many as four videos for one week at $2.80 per title, plus shipping. The company offers a “Movie Orgy” package of rentals at a lower rate. Also, 80,000 video titles are for sale. The company carries laserdiscs and plans to offer DVD titles soon.

The company is headed by Stuart Skorman, former CEO of East Coast-based chain Empire Video. Other key investors are Scott Beck, CEO of the Boston Chicken restaurant chain, and Ron Alsheimer, former owner of video retail chain Video Factory.

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