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Posted on Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 5:59 a.m.

As Hollywood Video closes Ann Arbor stores, laid-off employee wonders what's next

By James Briggs

hollywood video.jpg

Brian Napoleon lost his job when Hollywood Video closed its Packard Road store last week. Now the 29-year-old with cerebral palsy faces limited job market.

Melanie Maxwell |

When Hollywood Entertainment Corp. closed two Ann Arbor Hollywood Video stores last week, several employees lost their jobs.

Most of those laid-off employees will look elsewhere and eventually find new jobs. But Brian Napoleon, 29, worries perhaps more than the rest about what his next move will be.

Napoleon, who was born with cerebral palsy, started working for Hollywood Video in 1999.
“I was doing returns - shelving videos and DVDs, straightening things up,” Napoleon said.

That gig ended Tuesday, though, when Hollywood Entertainment closed its stores at 2111 Packard Street in Ann Arbor and 4080 Packard Road in Pittsfield Township. One store remains open at 2360 West Stadium Boulevard.

Napoleon’s manager left open the possibility that he could transfer to the West Stadium Boulevard location, he said, but later told him the company would not approve the transfer.

"The manager wanted to transfer Brian to the Stadium store, but a new corporate policy prevents him from doing that,” said Davi Napoleon, Brian’s mother. That policy, she added, requires employees to handled all tasks, including the register, which Brian is unable to do.

Calls placed to Hollywood Video’s corporate offices were not returned. Brian and his family, though, are not upset at the company.

“Everything has its ups and downs,” Brian said.

The store’s managers, Davi added, “were supportive of Brian right from the beginning.”

The challenge is for Brian to find work in an economy that lately hasn’t been kind to anyone. The Ann Arbor area's unemployment rate in January was 9.3 percent - up from 7 percent a year earlier, but still the best in Michigan, according to state officials.

Times have been particularly difficult for people with disabilities, said Helen Ledgard, who oversees business development for the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living.

“People with disabilities work in a lot of jobs that are going away,” Ledgard said. “People with disabilities are bearing the brunt of the global economic shift.”

Some organizations, like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, go out of their way to hire people with disabilities, Ledgard said, but others are hesitant - especially in a sluggish economy.

“There are discrimination issues that get in the way of hiring a great person with a disability because of misconceptions about what that will entail when the employee is on the job,” Ledgard said.

“When there’s a surplus of workers here looking for jobs, it’s really easy to pass up a candidate with a disability. We try to support skilled and talented job-seekers and try to level the playing field.”

Finding a job hasn’t been an issue for Brian since he was a teenager and the economy was still booming. Like any other job-seeker, he isn’t quite sure where to start.

“We haven’t been actively looking for too long,” Davi said. “I think the kind of work Brian would enjoy is things like working in a library, or working in another book store.”

Brian is even less definitive about what he’ll do next. “Who knows?" he said.



Sat, Apr 24, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

I'm not from Ann Arbor, or indeed anywhere near it, but this story caught my eye. I'm also a 29 year old with Cerebral Palsy that's losing his job due to Hollywood closing our store. I've been a store manager for the company more than 5 years and I suddenly find myself looking for employment in a market that's kind to no one, and particularly rough on those of us with disabilities. I wish Brian all the luck in the world. And to know that there's someone else facing the same problem with similar hurdles, while a huge bummer, gives me a feeling of solidarity. We'll come out on top in the end.

David Green

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 11:05 p.m.

Unfortunately, as the area manager,I had the in-pleasurable experience of closing multiple Hollywood locations over the last few years. Four in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti. The people I worked with were incredible! I miss them dearly and stay in touch with them all. I can't name them all but they know who they are. Brian is an awesome young man and any business would do well to have him as a part of their team, even in a limited capacity. There are so many capable folks affected by this tragedy. Feel free to email me for Employee


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

Brian was the most upbeat and motivated person I have ever met. If someone needs a personal or work reference, I would be happy to a good word for Brian. You can e-mail me


Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

Annette, You made my heart sing! I applaud your invitation to this young man to apply at your store. I sure hope it works out for Brian and for Marshall's. I know how hard it is for people to find work and for Brian--although it shouldn't be any harder--it will be. Best of luck to you and to Brian. What a win! (Too bad for Hollywood Videos, their loss!)


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

Go for it Brian! Hope it works out for you. I'll be one of the new customers walking around looking for you.

Corey Seeman

Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

Way to go Annette!

scooter dog

Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 10:13 a.m.

Wow,sounds like Brian needs to contact the aclu.Disabled people have the same employment rights as anyone else.Its worth a call google it.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

In a city where we can tell developers that we do not want them to build why should Brian worry about a job? There is plenty of jobs out there. Maybe he should run for city council!


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

Well I think it is great that the manager at Marshall's might have a spot for him. There are people with a heart out there still. Oh he wanted to be transfered but corporate said he couldn't because he has a disability. Well sounds like discrimination to me. Good luck Brian on your new adventure.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

Brian is one of those guys you don't forget. I moved out of state for a few years, and recently returned. Walking in to the store and seeing his familiar face made me feel like I had only been gone for a few days...not years. And just as I'd remembered, he was still sharp as ever when it came to making recommendations on what to rent!


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

I'm the store manager at Marshall's on Washtenaw ave. If he'd like to - come and talk to me - we might a good fit for him!!! Ask for Annette or Lyn.