For years, things haven’t been good for the video store. But right now seems like a particularly bad time—like those who weathered the last round of closures are starting to fall. In March, Park Slope’s Reel Life South shuttered, a year after Video Forum had done the same, diminishing the independent video store scene that had managed to thrive in Park Slope into 2011. Even Blockbuster started closing its stores. Once with more than a dozen locations in Kings County, the company that put all so many mom-and-pops out of business has just one shop left in Brooklyn, in Bensonhurst.
Dan Wu, former owner of the Smith Street store (and of a Fifth Avenue location that closed in 2008), announced in April his plans to shut down, and began liquidating his stock. Local resident Aaron Hillis, also a journalist, film distributor and the curator at DUMBO’s reRun movie theater, stopped by to buy some cheap DVDs, and ended up buying the store, the Wall Street Journal reports. “There’s still something lovely and wonderful about being able to go into a store and browse,” he told the paper. “The store wasn’t failing.”
Despite the negative trend in the video store business, it does seem that neighborhoods that value local businesses and have a healthy number of cinephiles—like Carroll Gardens—can keep one in business. For now anyway. (Immigrant communities also keep many video stores in business.) As Hillis put it, “if the McSweeney’s superhero store can still manage to keep the utilities on, I think we’re going to do just fine.”
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