By Trinity Wilson
The Strand Theater has been entertaining moviegoers for generations. As the second oldest theater in the country, the Strand has become a historical landmark in the Brockport community and a ideal escape for college students.
Jennifer Countryman has been the manager at The Strand Theater for the past ten years. Working at The Strand has been a dream for Countryman who has always had a passion for the movie business.
“My first job was at a drive-in theater. So, I kind of fell into the movie business,” said Countryman. “Since then, I’ve always ended up in the movie business in some shape or form whether it was for a rental place or drive-in theater.”
As the manager, Countryman has to do a little bit of everything.
”When I come in, I have to turn on the all the lights even the ones for the marquee outside. “Then I turn on the popcorn machine and the projector. Then at the end of the night I wipe down the counter and start counting and tallying up money,” said Countryman.
Countryman says how finding people who know work well together is her biggest challenge.
“I know that when I hire someone I can at least have them for a couple years,” said Countryman. If I can hire either high schoolers or people coming to college and I know that I’m okay. I can have this good employee for at least four years before I have to find somebody else.”
The Strand Theater had to switch over to digital in order to keep up with the big movie chains. Countryman says the advertising process is more difficult for small theaters.
“Because there’s no more film we had to convert over to digital in order to not be shut down,” said Countryman. “This past year, we redid all the seating. Now we have recliner chairs with plush leather. I’m getting new movies in consistently. Which does hurts us in a way because we do have only three theaters.”
Countryman says the Strand Theater is still relevant even in the age of Netflix, Disney +, and Hulu.
“We do have a lot of returning families that come every week. People I have seen every week for years. You get to know them, and I think customers like that too, you build a relationship with them.” said Countryman.
The Strand Theater can be a way to escape the stress of everyday life. Brockport College Students says that The Strand provides an outlet.
“The Strand holds a sense of nostalgia since so many theaters have shut down,” said Lauryn Bundy, an English major. “I get so excited when I go to the Strand, there’s nothing like the feeling you get when you watch a movie in the theater.”
Rebecca Lemus, a Public Health major says that the Strand Theater gives customers a unique experience.
“I consider the Strand Theater very homey. It’s not over popularized and the theater itself has a very intimate feeling that larger theaters do not seem to have,” said Lemus.
Countryman says that the customer’s experience and overall impression of the theater is important.
“When customers come to the Strand, they are coming for enjoyment and fun, that’s what I want them to take away from their experience,” said Countryman.
Countryman says interacting with customers and impacting their viewing experience is her favorite part of her job.
“I love seeing grandparents making memories with their grandchildren by taking them to the theater, ” says Countryman. ”That’s something that they’re always going to remember. If I could be a part of that, that’s awesome”.
(Video taken by Trinity Wilson)