Wistful shoppers started to line up 20 minutes early for Video Americain’s closing sale. The locally-beloved video-rental store is closing after nearly 18 years in Takoma Park’s Old Town.
Annie Solan, who along with her husband Barry owns the small Baltimore-based chain, was present Thursday, Nov. 15 when the store began to sell off its stock. She said she’s seen a generation of Takoma Parkians grow up. She remembers children “whose noses came barely up to the counter” who are now towering adults. She also got to meet many of the city’s canines, whose owners could pick up free dog treats from a bowl on the counter.
Scores of people crowded into the store, many of them rushing to pick up movies they knew would be popular. Films by famous or cult directors were quickly snatched up. The entire collection of Hayao Miyazaki animated films was gone in the first 5 minutes.
The store was appreciated for it’s large collection of art, independent, cult, obscure, and foreign films. It had films arranged by director, or by country, or by genres such as GLBTQ, Cult, and Film Noir. It was well known for it’s knowledgeable staff who were given free rein to decorate the counter area and whose Hallowe’en window displays were legendary. The “Employees Picks” shelves were empty for the first time, those films back on the general shelves. Many customers widened their film education by perusing the employee recommendations.
One man was looking only for rare films on VHS tape that have not been released in DVD format. Another was there only for the music videos. Another asked “where are the Australian movies?”
An angst-stricken woman stared at an array of DVD covers in her hands, saying “I’d love to RENT these, but I don’t want to buy them!” An envious man admired the Akira Kurosawa films in the hands of another customer who’d gotten to them first.
One thing everyone agreed with, they were sorry to see Video Americain close. The closing sale will continue at least into early December.
Photos by William L. Brown