Our hearts surged with hope when we heard the news: unlike so many of its charmingly archaic compatriots, Video Free Brooklyn will live another day. (And just after we learned that older immigrants were keeping VHS tradition alive in far-flung corners of the city!)
Might there be a small, but loyal band of movie lovers who want their rental stores back? Who are disappointed with Netflix’s poor streaming selection? Who wish to turn their backs on the drudgery of the queue? Dare we dream?
The Wall Street Journal reports that film aficionado Aaron Hillis bought the beloved Carroll Gardens shop, banking on Brooklyn’s love of all things niche. After all, in a borough where stores specializing in mayonnaise and other oddities are opening nearly every day, why not a video store?
“Now that we’re in a post-Netflix age and we see that technology is not perfect and they don’t have everything, there’s still something lovely and wonderful about being able to go into a store and browse,” Mr. Hillis told The Journal. “You can treat it in the same way as the vinyl resurgence. It’s about being able to chat about movies with someone knowledgeable behind the counter, being able to pick up a box and not just click but have it in your hand. It’s somewhat steeped in nostalgia and a reaction to this overly digital world we live in.”
And that overly digital world, with its promise of endless varieties of entertainment always at one’s fingertips, has proven to be both less than exhaustive and deeply exhausting, as we cobble together an evening’s entertainment from Netflix accounts and borrowed HBOGo passwords, Amazon and iTunes purchases and bit-torrented TV shows.
But are we really ready for a resurgence? As much as we might wish for the simplicity and elegance of a one-stop shop to satisfy our screening desires, video stores are still disappearing all around the city. Just last month, West Village staple World of Video shuttered its doors for good, Park Slope’s Reel Life South closed in March and Video Forum on Seventh Avenue died last year.
Video Free Brooklyn may be a last stand, a turning point or a much-needed tonic. But at the very lease it is a holdout, where film lovers are free from the tyranny of Netflix.