Beyond Video: Return of the Video Rental Store in Baltimore
KEEPING VIDEO-STORE CULTURE ALIVE BY OPENING A NEW, NON-PROFIT VIDEO RENTAL STORE IN BALTIMORE.
A great video store is so much more than a place of business. The best video stores offer an immersive experience in every era, genre, and region of film culture. Like great bookstores and record stores, video stores are centers of entertainment, learning, and discovery; a record of our cultural history; and an exciting social space where friendships, ideas, and collaborations are born. For many filmmakers, critics, students, and others who make their living with film as well as passionate cinephiles, video stores are as essential as theaters, libraries, and film schools. Sadly, over the last few years, Baltimore’s last great video stores have closed their doors. We think video stores are worth fighting for.
We’re the Baltimore Video Collective (BVC), seven like-minded people active in Baltimore’s arts community, all of whom have many years’ experience working at and managing great video stores in Baltimore and beyond. We strongly believe that video stores can withstand the challenges of the digital age, like record shops and bookstores before them—but with a new and revised business plan.
Our goal is to open a membership-based video-rental store called Beyond Video that, to the customer, looks and feels much like video stores have for the last 30 years. But behind the scenes, our store will be operated as a non-profit collective, with all ownership work donated by the BVC. With no profits being drawn to the top, all revenue brought in by the store will go to paying employees a living wage, covering bills, and expanding the collection.
Crucially for a video store in this day and age, our store will also be centrally located in a thriving arts and shopping district, functioning as both a neighborhood video shop and a destination for the surrounding areas. We will also emphasize the cultural role of video stores by organizing screenings, film discussions, workshops, and other arts events--both in our space and in partnership with like-minded Baltimore filmmakers, artists, and organizations.
Baltimore needs a great video store. We have the experience, passion, and vision to build and sustain one—but we need your help. And the next step is a big one. We need to raise $30,000, with the bulk of this sum going to an immediate purchase of the remaining stock we need to open with a world-class collection.
HOW WILL WE SPEND THE FUNDS?
$20,000 will go to purchase the remaining stock we need to have a world-class video collection well-stocked with thousands of DVDs & blu-rays from every genre, region, and era, as well as a smaller curated selection of rare VHS titles.
$10,000 will go to create a beautiful, welcoming, pleasurable place to shop. This includes carpentry and painting of the store interior and shelving as well as the purchase of inventory storage drawers, thousands of DVD cases, computer hardware, database software and other supplies. Any remaining funds will be used to cover the first month’s rent on our new space and to absorb any additional startup costs.
WHAT WILL OUR COLLECTION LOOK LIKE?
Our store will open with approximately 10,000 items, and will continue to grow in direct proportion to community support. We will be deeply stocked with new releases; classics; silents; documentaries; LGBTQ titles; cult and underground films; tv series; and world cinema of every genre, region, and era. Our collection will include each and every in-print title from The Criterion Collection, and will be heavily stocked with titles from exciting labels such as Kino, Cinema Guild, Strand, Scream Factory, IFC, Blue Underground, Oscilloscope, Factory 25, Olive, New Yorker, and Facets (to name just a few). Our collection will consist primarily of DVDs, with a smaller curated selection of blu-rays. We will grow the blu-ray collection in direct proportion to community response.
WHAT WE’VE DONE ALREADY
We’ve amassed a collection that includes over 5,000 DVDs, including the majority of the Criterion Collection, and hundreds of titles on other formats. We’ve identified the approximately 10,000 core items we aim to acquire as the core of our collection, and researched pricing of these items. We’ve committed to establishing a storefront in Remington/Charles Village on North Howard Street. We’ve established fiscal sponsorship as a non-profit with Strong City Baltimore, formed a board of directors, and written by-laws. Each member of the collective has dedicated hundreds of hours of volunteer work and considerable sums of their own money on the road to ensuring this project is feasible and sustainable.
WHO’S ON THE TEAM?
Dave Barresi is a musician, DJ and avid cinephile with an online music/video retail business who has worked on a casual basis for both Video Americain and the Maryland Film Festival. He loves discovering and sharing lost cultural gems on dusty old formats.
Scott Braid is the Associate Director for Maryland Film Festival. He worked as store manager at Video Americain from 2000-2005, first at the Cold Spring location and then at the Charles Village location. He also continued to work part-time for the store from 2005 - 2010. Scott is also a filmmaker and graduate of the UMBC Cinematic Arts program, who has made music videos for Baltimore acts The Creepers, Peals, and Thank You.
Kevin Coelho is a life-long lover of film and a graduate of Towson University’s Electronic Media & Film program. He worked at Video Americain for nine years. What started as a part-time summer job at Video Americain somehow evolved as the manager of the Charles Village store up until its closure in 2012. He is also a member of the Maryland Film Festival’s screening committee. He enjoys painting and making movies and the company of dogs.
Liz Donadio is a multimedia artist and educator living in Baltimore. She was a clerk and assistant manager at both the Charles Village and Coldspring Video Americain stores from 2011-2013. Liz runs Color Wheel Digital, a fine-art print service for artists in Baltimore, and gets endless inspiration from film for her own photography & video work.
Greg Golinski is a Theater Manager at the MdFF Parkway in Baltimore, presenting emerging films and curated repertory programming in a newly restored historic theater. Greg was Manager at the Charles Village location of Video Americain from early 2005 until late 2007. He has watched Let It Ride (starring Richard Dreyfus) more times than anyone should.
Eric Allen Hatch is the Director of Programming for Maryland Film Festival, where he has worked since 2007. He was the manager of the Charles Village Video Americain from 1998-2004. Eric was also a film and music critic for Baltimore City Paper for ten years; the curator and host of the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Free First Thursdays international film series; and a founding member of the Red Room Collective.
Joe Tropea is the curator of films & photographs at the Maryland Historical Society. A public historian, writer, editor, and filmmaker, he worked at Video Americain (all locations) from 1999 to 2010. He is also a member of the 2640 Project collective and the Maryland Film Festival’s screening committee. His interests include research, documentary filmmaking, and spending time with other people’s dogs.
Risks and challenges
This project, like most things in life, will bring some surprises and challenges, but we've put together a fantastic team so we can efficiently and creatively tackle any issues that may arise. Collectively, we have many years of experience developing and managing video stores and engaging with the Baltimore film community and we passionately believe in our mission. We're so excited to launch this project and we look forward to sharing our progress with you and growing with your support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)