An iconic LA video store is finally closing up shop. Yes, we said video store, complete with with brick and mortar, and even real-life humans. Apparently those still exist in the entertainment world. But their numbers are rapidly dwindling, soon to count one fewer among them.
Until recently, Video Journeys was a sanctuary for everyone from casual movie fans to the most discerning cinephiles, equipped with all the features you might expect from the aging archetype of the neighborhood rental spot: Shelves of titles organized alphabetically by genre, patrons chatting about their favorite films, friendly film-school types behind the counter, and even a “scary porn room” in the back.
But THR is reporting that the streaming revolution has claimed its latest victim. The store is now selling off its inventory and has been delivering the bad news to loyal customers, some of which have been renting and returning videos at the store for decades.
Video Journeys first opened its doors in 1984 and a party planned for July 25 of this year will mark the end of a 30+ year run. During those three decades — like many an LA institution — the store visited by its fair share of stars, and has a surplus of lore that will surely outlive the store itself.
Kyle Chandler, Steven Soderbergh, and Patrick Stewart all tried to find work at Video Journeys. Keanu Reeves famously came in for a copy of William Wyler’s Wuthering heights (1939), which he found, but never returned, etc., etc.
Still, in the modern era, stores can’t pay the bills, and while a few local video stores have survived due to generous, 11th-hour benefactors, no one has stepped in to save this neighborhood institution — and it doesn’t look as if anyone will.
Thus the atmosphere at Video Journeys feels almost funereal, as the shelves slowly empty of DVD cases and customers compare memories of the good ol’ days. Sure, they could hop on Netflix or Amazon and stream many of the same titles they once rented, but doing so would be like speaking a foreign language for the hardcore among them — one that lacks the sort of nuance that makes their native tongue unique.
Far be it for us to decry the forward march of technology, but it does feel like these kinds of stores should be an option for consumers. Perhaps they could evolve — as one gentleman suggests in THR’s video — into film libraries, subsidized and maintained for the good of the public. Who knows?
Hopefully we’ll see a spiritual successor emerge at some point, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, tip your cap to Video Journeys and stores like it, for sustaining a generation of movie fans.