We opened a non-profit video store in Baltimore

onetetonetet 1,753 Posts


Hey everybody -- long time no post. This is one of the projects that's kept me off the forums the last few years... not record-related, but most def physical-media-related. 

Here in Baltimore, the land of John Waters and The Wire, myself and some friends (including another strutter, erehwon) opened a new non-profit, volunteer-run video-rental store in late 2018 called Beyond Video, very much styled after great video stores of yesterday such as Kim's in nyc and Video Americain here in Baltimore (where I used to work, and which is featured prominently in John Waters' film Serial Mom). Here's a little info on the project... and if you have any dvds or blu-rays collecting dust, we'd love to add them to our inventory. 

Our collection was entirely crowdsourced, and we've put together an inventory of 13,000 titles and counting -- about 10,000 dvds, 2500 blus, and 500 rare VHS titles. We all donated items from our collections, we did a Kickstarter for some start-up funds, and I solicited donations and discounts directly from distributors like Criterion, A24, Cinema Guild, Kino, Vinegar Syndrome, and Oscilloscope. I've also created an extensive public-facing google-doc Wish List of titles we don't yet own which I update several times a week as titles come in; hundreds of individuals have sent us discs from all over N. America. 

This is an all-volunteer endeavor; me and six friends do all the work for the love of movies and home-video. We have non-profit status under a local community group called Strong City. The store is open limited hours (Thursday - Sunday, 3-9) and members pay a monthly donation of either $12(individual) or $20 (duo) and then can rent as often as they like. 375 people have signed up for recurring monthly donations, meaning the project is very sustainable; we've been open since late 2018 and are signing a 3-year lease soon.

Have any DVDs or BLUs you'd like to send us? Duplicates, old editions you've upgraded? We'll take *any* DVDs or Blu-Rays that are in their cases with original artwork and in working condition, with the understanding that titles we already own might be sold or traded for titles we don't yet own. 

WISH LIST and DONATION FAQ here.



Read more about Beyond Video in this Black List profile in their Essential Video Stores series, this article on A24's blog, and this article about our project in The Outline.

And if you enjoy seeing the DVD/blu equivalent of reccord p0rn, we post weekly inventory updates on IG: https://www.instagram.com/beyondvideobmore/




Thanks for reading! Hope you've all been doing well these last few years...
ppadilhaketanRAJbillbradleyElectrodeEIGHTY

  Comments


  • SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,244 Posts
    Dude, this is blowing me away such a brilliant idea! May have some DVD's sitting in my storage I can donate next time I'm in Vegas. 

    Much success to y'all!

    - spidey
    onetet

  • I read the outline article about this place when it opened! I'm so glad to hear it's been a success so far. Video media is unfortunately not one of my house-clogging collections, so I can't donate, but I wish wish wish I had something like this in my area. I miss video stores more than anything. I can't browse on a screen. If somebody was onto this in my area I would jump to volunteer.

    It's got me thinking, it'd be cool if you guys share anything useful to know about starting up a store like this so others can follow without re-learning what you all have pioneered.

    I will be ogling your IG for sure too.
    onetet

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,367 Posts
    Congrats - this is amazing work.  And I agree - I would love to have this as a resource in my community.  

    I have a hefty collection packed away and will be unpacking in the next month or so.  I'll see if there's anything I can donate that you need then.


    onetet

  • RAJRAJ tenacious local 7,535 Posts
    This is incredible.  Thanks for posting!
    onetet

  • onetetonetet 1,753 Posts

    It's got me thinking, it'd be cool if you guys share anything useful to know about starting up a store like this so others can follow without re-learning what you all have pioneered.


    I'm glad you mentioned that, I actually have written up something along those lines. It's hosted on my Patreon, but in the open-source spirit of Beyond Video, it's a free read for anyone:

    "How to Open a Volunteer-Run, Non-Profit Video Store in Your City (like we did in Bmore!)"

    A few people in other cities have reached out with serious inquiries, so hopefully other places like Beyond Video will pop up in the years to come. I think it's doable in almost any decent-sized city (aside from maybe the very priciest few), as long as the model is built around limited hours and volunteer labor spread across a good-sized group of enthusiasts.

    One of my main takeaways regarding the success of this project so far is that it actually benefited us that Baltimore had a great indie video store that it lost a few years ago. That gave people here several years of tangibly learning how they missed the store's selection/vibe/experience as well as to see the limitations of streaming in selection and experience. So when we got this project going, people rallied behind it. I'm finding that long-standing video stores in other cities are having a harder time hanging on, as their customers are still in the "I know I should support this awesome thing and not take it for granted, but it's inconvenient" phase rather than the "we can never lose this awesome thing again" phase. In the waning days of the last Baltimore video store, the remaining customers were mostly renting new releases or porn. Here, most of the rentals come from the directors wall, and we can't Criterions and keep movies by people like Claire Denis, Fassbinder, Zulawski, and Lanthimos on the shelf. 

    Another thing that makes it doable is the current devalued moment of home-video. Aside from Criterions, raer VHS, and horror collectors, most people attach next to no value on DVDs or tapes, so people have been more than happy to give us anything from one items to hundreds. It's kinda cool knowing an item that you might have a hard time selling for a buck can take on more value somewhere else as part of a circulating collection. 

    Thanks for the kind responses, everybody! 


  • vintageinfantsvintageinfants 4,534 Posts
    this is....

    and i i cant stress this enough......

    .....  fucking incredible.



    will be making a large donation, and then coming in to just bask in the glory of this temple.
    onetet

  • I keep coming back to this in my head, like, how can I get some people together to do something like this where I live (London)... I know of some indies that held on longer than most but I'm unaware of any real beloved institutions - without the inbuilt heartbroken indie video store crowd to give an initial boost, and with the obvious rent concerns, we'd have to be very clever about where to locate something like this. So thanks so much for sharing your experience putting it together, I'll be cogitating.
    onetet

  • onetetonetet 1,753 Posts
    I keep coming back to this in my head, like, how can I get some people together to do something like this where I live (London)... I know of some indies that held on longer than most but I'm unaware of any real beloved institutions - without the inbuilt heartbroken indie video store crowd to give an initial boost, and with the obvious rent concerns, we'd have to be very clever about where to locate something like this. So thanks so much for sharing your experience putting it together, I'll be cogitating.

    Thanks! BTW, do you know the London micro-cinema called Close-Up? I stopped by there on a recent visit, and they have a great DVD rental collection (as well as a cafe and a large browsing library of books about film). Maybe locals think of it differently, but seemed like an awesome place to me. 


  • onetet said:
    I keep coming back to this in my head, like, how can I get some people together to do something like this where I live (London)... I know of some indies that held on longer than most but I'm unaware of any real beloved institutions - without the inbuilt heartbroken indie video store crowd to give an initial boost, and with the obvious rent concerns, we'd have to be very clever about where to locate something like this. So thanks so much for sharing your experience putting it together, I'll be cogitating.

    Thanks! BTW, do you know the London micro-cinema called Close-Up? I stopped by there on a recent visit, and they have a great DVD rental collection (as well as a cafe and a large browsing library of books about film). Maybe locals think of it differently, but seemed like an awesome place to me. 

    As a pretty much on-foot resident of non-East London I don't get out to Shoreditch too much but that does look like a cool place! I think I was vaguely aware of a small screen cinema around there but didn't know it had rentals. That's reminded me that we do have the BFI on the southbank which has a mediatheque library (and a massive selection of movies for sale too), although I think it's for on-site viewing only a la university film libraries. 

    Here I think the density of film nerds is high enough, really, it's more about rent and accessibility/location to be an easy enough destination that people would head out there. I personally find it difficult mentally to head out somewhere random on the tube if it's just for one purpose. In a perfect rent-free world it'd be in Soho or Fitzrovia or something. Or one of those alleys off Charing Cross Road with the antiquarian bookstores. The kind of places people might go to wander anyway - near book and record shops too, to capture some of the same crowd. Ah to be an eccentric rich guy who could make things like this happen easily!

    onetet

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    I'm sending some vhs.
    ketanRAJ
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