And a family video on Rand Rd. And Wheeling Rd. In Prospect Heights.
They’re all gone now, but I’ve held onto so many items from these places, including a huge collection of movie posters, that my friends Jim and Justin helped me organize. We would regularly raid the dumpsters of these stores and take home rolls of movie posters and standing travelers. We also asked store owners if they had anything they wanted to give us and many were eager to give us their trash (treasures).
Much of that trash opened a window into the activities of a video store during this time. I found all kinds of ads aimed at retailers with deals on titles: “Buy four of ‘Brazil’, get a fifth free!” Over many years as a client and employee, I’ve learned that video library owners are a quirky bunch (politely in some cases). What exactly drew them to the business model of buying a copy of “Shy People” for around $ 70 and then hoping he would rent it at least 20 times to get his money back? It was a prohibitively expensive undertaking before the advent of DVD. It’s no wonder that so many video libraries from the ’80s and’ 90s have come and gone. In the documentary “The Last Blockbuster” (which I recommend), I was amazed to see the owner of this store buying movies from Target instead of from a discount distributor. Again, do we have these distributors? Why would we do it?
As a teenager, my tiny room looked like a seedy video store, with posters everywhere, issues of Video Review lying around, standing movies, and an overflow of Kodak VHS tapes. Over the decades it has evolved into a laser disc collection, then DVD and now Blu-ray / 4K. But I still managed to hang on to trinkets from the past, including a Blockbuster Video name tag, matching buttons, and a VHS copy of “9 to 5” from Quick-Flix Video, my favorite store in the industry. at the end of the 80s, my formative years as a student of cinema in full swing.
And now I have the posting of Family Video. Driving for hours away looking around at the fading video stores seems like madness to some people, but I have to think some of you reading this have figured it out. Of course, I also have movies, but I think having a physical part of the video store itself has special meaning. It’s like owning a 16mm projector or an old BETA player. It has no practical use in 2021. Just personal value.
When the Hermosa Beach, Calif., Video archive closed, Quentin Tarantino (a former employee) purchased all of their inventory and recreated the store in his basement. He said this place was a lifeline for him and I imagine video stores have had that effect on a lot of people. It was a school of cinema, a social gathering, a place of cinematographic discovery, meetings evenings and rites of passage. For a movie buff today, the fact that there won’t be any stores of any kind for other moviegoers to congregate is just plain sad. Yes, I have made a lot of discoveries while browsing selections on the best streaming services. I also had headaches.