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The Last Video Store

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 24, 2020

From director Arthur Cauty, a short documentary film about the oldest video rental store in the world, Bristol’s 20th Century Flicks, which has been operating continuously since 1982. Says Cauty:

It’s an ode to the video shop experience and a bygone way of watching movies. With studios like Disney launching their own streaming services and joining industry kingpins such as Netflix and Hulu, we have an almost endless flow of entertainment available at the click of a button. It’s amazing to me that a little independent video store can survive the Netflix cull and even outlive Blockbuster. Drop into the shop next time you’re in Bristol for a dose of movie nostalgia, have a chat about film and go home with a VHS rarity and a bag of popcorn.

From a 2014 Guardian piece about the shop as they were attempting an ultimately successful move & crowdfunding campaign:

The shop was never what you’d call high street, sandwiched as it was between Bristol University’s monstrous student’s union and the Clifton Wine Bar, but was always somewhere Bristolians were willing to travel to. In the 1990s there may have been a Blockbuster in every district, but if you wanted to rent Fitzcarraldo, Flicks was your only option. The shop’s all-time greatest hit is Withnail and I, and the current top of its chart is Calvary. Its policy of not disposing of titles when rentals slowed has resulted in an enviable off-site archive for requests — including a core of VHS movies that were never released on DVD and are still regularly taken out.

The owners say the store has a collection of more than 20,000 different titles, “about five times more than Netflix”.

See also Memory Power, a short doc about a Pennsylvania video store that’s also hanging in there.