PHOTOS: Video Americain closing sale

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

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2 Comments on "PHOTOS: Video Americain closing sale"

  1. I’m sorry to see any local business in Takoma Park close down, but Video Americain stopped being fun a long time ago. I used to go in there when there were staff members who were super-knowledgeable about film and had their own shelves where they would recommend movies. I rented many videos sight unseen because of a staff member whose taste I trusted and who would talk with me about their favorites. Over the years the staff became less friendly, less helpful, sometimes actively rude, making snide comments about rentals, rolling eyes, etc. Next door neighbor – Summer Delights – the ice cream place – needs some sensitivity training as well or they will be headed down the same path. I have lived in Takoma Park since 1988 and over the years several of the local shops have begun to serve more attitude than anything else.

  2. Steve Davies | December 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

    I can’t let Lisa’s comment stand as the only one. I am sorry she had that experience with the staff; I rented often and rarely, if ever, had any problems.

    I spent a while talking to Barry — co-owner — yesterday. What a great guy! Someone who did not put profit first, for sure, but has done this because he loved it. We have been truly fortunate to have Video Americain in Takoma Park.

    I understand some folks are organizing a party for later this month or early next month. It will be a perfect opportunity for the community to show its appreciation to Barry and his wife — and also to landlord John Urciolo, who I understand has been very generous with all the businesses in Old Takoma — for the 18 years of viewing pleasure they provided.

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