Even with outrage over Netflix’s recent price hike, online alternatives like Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus make brick-and-mortar video stores seem like a quaint relic from the past. Who actually ventures outside to rent movies anymore?
Film enthusiasts looking for some community sing-alongs, it turns out.
Vidiots, an independent video store in Santa Monica, even opened up a performance space called the Annex a year ago, where it hosts sing-along screenings of films like Jesus Christ Superstar, a film studies program, and improv spoken word events.
As the New York Times notes, what sets Vidiots apart — and keeps it from going under — is its ability to transform itself into a cultural community center.
“We felt that with Netflix and the Internet, what we should be focusing on was community and people talking to each other,” [Patty Polinger, co-owner of Vidiots] said. “We just wanted to go the other extreme and be more interpersonal.”
And other video shops are following suit. Videology, a rare video store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will open a cafe and bar full of movie screenings and trivia nights this fall, while CineFile Video in Los Angeles features free stand-up from Josh Fadem, a comedian who works as a clerk at the store.
The other distinguishing factor video stores have over Hulu is the film expertise of their employees.
“People make an effort to reach out to something real, so the one thing they appreciate here, is we are very knowledgeable,” Mr. Stehlik said. “People who work in the video store are very knowledgeable about film. There’s always a conversation, not just a click. Those kinds of real experiences, you can’t really duplicate when you’re getting a movie out of a vending machine.”
Does this inspire you to put real clothes on and visit an actual store? Or is the comfort of one-click-away online rentals too enticing?