18 Awesome Video Stores That Are Still Open for Business
By Rudie Obias
With the growing popularity of online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, brick-and-mortar video stores have, for the most part, become a thing of the past. But those that have managed to endure have developed massive fan bases. In honor of International Independent Video Store Day (tomorrow, October 15), here are 18 awesome video stores that are still open for business.
1. VIDEO FREE BROOKLYN // BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Established in 2002, Video Free Brooklyn offers a diverse selection of movies on DVD and Blu-ray, and also sells used DVDs. Co-owned by film critic Aaron Hillis and his wife, photographer Jennifer Loeber, the video store prides itself on giving something back to its film-loving community. Video Free Brooklyn also has a podcast in a partnership with Oscilloscope Laboratories called “DVD Is the New Vinyl,” which highlights the best new movies of the week, offers staff recommendations, and features special guests, such as singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten and actor Kumail Nanjiani.
2. VIDIOTS // SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA
Regularly cited as one of the best video stores in the Los Angeles area, Vidiots almost closed its doors for good after 30 years of business. However, film producer Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures stepped in to save the video store after giving a sizable donation. Vidiots offers a wide array of movies, including great selections of foreign films and documentaries, along with special screening events, which in the past have included Q&As with David O. Russell, Anjelica Huston, and Oliver Stone. The video store also has a podcast to update customers on its latest news and new releases, along with in-depth film discussions.
3. SCARECROW VIDEO // SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Since first opening its doors in 1988, Scarecrow Video has amassed a movie collection that includes more than 120,000 titles, including a number of rare, out-of-print, foreign, and independent films. And if you really want to take it old-school, you can rent laserdisc players, region-free DVD players, and VCRs to play VHS tapes. Scarecrow Video also helps keep the film community in Seattle alive with special film screenings.
4. FACETS // CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
first opened its doors in 1975 as a local art house that screened movies in a church in Chicago. Over the years, it has branched out into education, distribution, and, of course, a video store, which offers a very large selection of independent, arthouse, classic, documentary, and experimental films from the likes of Bela Tarr, Jean-Luc Godard, and Miloš Forman. Facets even hosts the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival every year. The late film critic Roger Ebert once called Facets a "temple of great cinema."
5. VULCAN VIDEO // AUSTIN, TEXAS
With two locations in Austin, Vulcan Video offers many foreign, cult, and classic films, along with more mainstream fare, on DVD, Blu-ray and VHS. The Austin Chronicle frequently names it the best video store in the city, and it counts several A-list celebrities among its fans: Jimmy Kimmel and Matthew McConaughey filmed a TV commercial for the store in a Jimmy Kimmel Live! segment.
6. LOST WEEKEND VIDEO // SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
While Lost Weekend Video has been serving the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 20 years as a video store with over 27,000 film titles on-hand, it also hosts local comedians with Cinecave Comedy. Originally located in San Francisco’s Mission District, Lost Weekend Video recently relocated to the Alamo Drafthouse at the newly-renovated New Mission Theater.
7. THE VIDEO UNDERGROUND // JAMAICA PLAIN, MASSACHUSETTS
prides itself on catering to the film community by urging Boston area filmmakers to make their movies available to patrons. The video store offers a diverse and wide selection of independent, cult, classic, and foreign films, in addition to new releases. They even have separate sections for famous directors, such as Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, and Akira Kurosawa.
8. FOUR STAR VIDEO COOPERATIVE // MADISON, WI
After changing owners four times since 1985, Four Star Video Heaven was in danger of closing until its employees banded together and acquired the business and turned it into the Four Star Video Cooperative. Their mission is to make “underground, art, foreign, and just plain weird titles available to the public by placing them alongside more mainstream Hollywood films.” The co-op offers straight-up rentals, as well as rental subscriptions where members can watch as many movies as they want for one low price. Four Star Video also boasts “the largest in-store selections of animation, foreign-language, documentary, and independent films anywhere in the Midwest.” They even have a film discussion podcast.
9. MOVIE LOVERS // BOZEMAN, MONTANA
Opened in 1984, Movie Lovers offers nearly 20,000 titles, including independent and foreign films as well as new releases. On the first Monday of each month, the video store also offers all of its customers Late Fee Amnesty Day: Customers can get their late fees wiped clean if they rent three or more movies, giving them a great reason to come back and find more movies.
10. VIDEO ROOM // NEW YORK, NEW YORK
NYC Video Stores_segment 1 from Geneva Sands-Sadowitz on Vimeo.
is Manhattan’s oldest and largest independent video store. They offer up over 12,000 VHS and DVD titles that range from foreign and hard-to-find movies to new releases, and they have two locations. Video Room also offers Gold and Platinum memberships that include free unlimited same-day home pickup and delivery, which is a must in New York City!
11. RAO VIDEO // LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
Established in 1977 as a small kiosk in a mall, RAO Video in Little Rock is a family-owned business that offers more than 30,000 titles on DVD and Blu-ray, including a number of obscure titles, foreign pulp flicks, and martial arts films (not to mention an adult movie section on the second floor). While RAO Video is primarily a video store, it’s also a vape shop, a beauty parlor, and a computer repair store.
12. VIDEODROME // ATLANTA, GEORGIA
boasts a very large selection of movies from obscure and cult films to the latest movies and new releases. It prides itself on its many genre and subgenre categories and sections.
13. CINEFILE VIDEO // LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Considered the edgier version of Vidiots, CineFile Video offers strange and extreme subgenres, such as "Erotikill,” “Swayze Persuasion,” and “Pregnant Men.” The video store boasts more than 42,000 movies “that you simply won't find online” with memberships and volunteer programs. CineFile Video will also pay you cash for your old DVDs and VHS tapes.
14. THE FLICKS // BOISE, IDAHO
Located in downtown Boise, Idaho, The Flicks is an all-in-one movie theater and video store. It screens the latest in independent, foreign, and arthouse films on four movie screens, while it also offers hard-to-find titles and new releases to rent on DVD and VHS tapes. The Flicks also features a cafe and coffee bar with a garden patio and fountain. It’s even energy-efficient, with newly-installed solar panels on its roof that provide more than 25 percent of the building’s power.
15. JET VIDEO // PORTLAND, MAINE
Not only is Jet Video a video store that offers a wide selection of movies and video games for rent, it’s also a local post office and an ice cream shop, too!
16. VIDEOLOGY BAR AND CINEMA // BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Deep in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Videology Bar and Cinema is not only a video store with a wide selection of movies for rent, it’s also a local watering hole for movie lovers and people who just want a beer or top-notch snacks and bar food. It hosts weekly events like trivia night, pop culture bingo, and special screenings of cult classics.
17. ROSEBUD VIDEO STORE // ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
is the oldest independent video store in Asheville, North Carolina. It features a large collection of popular, foreign, independent, gay and lesbian, classic, and documentary films, with more than 12,000 titles in stock. Rosebud Video also has standalone sections dedicated to the AFI’s top 100, all of the Academy Award Best Picture winners, and the entire Criterion Collection.
18. CASA VIDEO // TUCSON, ARIZONA
While most video stores just offer thousands of movies to rent, Casa Video in Tucson goes beyond the call of duty and offers free popcorn to everyone who enters. They also offer a mail-order service where you can request titles online and have them sent to you in the mail. You can even rent movies online to pick up in the store, along with your free popcorn.
The video store recently opened a wine and beer bar called The Casa Film Bar on its second floor. It features various draft beers on tap, a number of large movie and TV screens, food, and weekly special events.