John Waters Helps Fund Baltimore Non-Profit Video Store

In the age of Netflix and other streaming services, existing video stores have become exceedingly rare. And if there’s anything more rare these days than an operating video store, it’s a brand new one.

But one such store is getting ready to open in Baltimore. Beyond Video, a new video store operating with a nonprofit model, will open this Friday in an arts and shopping district in Baltimore’s Remington section, Baltimore magazine reported. The video store grew out of Video Americain, a famed Baltimore video store chain that closed its doors in 2014 — after 25 years in business. A seven-member group known as the Baltimore Video Collective pushed the new store, through a Kickstarter campaign that successfully raised more than its goal of $30,000.

“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,” the collective said on the campaign website. The Baltimore Video Collective includes people from various backgrounds, including the Associate Director and Director of Programming of the Maryland Film Festival, a curator at the Maryland Historical Society, a theater manager, and former employees of Video Americain.

The store, according to the magazine, will have a unique model: Rather than rent movies individually, customers can pay “$12 a month that gives you three items at a time or $20 where multiple people can have have six items at a time.” There will be no rental fees or late fees.

John Waters, the famous director who made movies like Hairspray and Pink Flamingos in Baltimore, was also a contributor to the effort. The owners have collected 10,000 titles for the new store. The product was stocked via donations in addition to deeply discounted items from distributors like A24 and the Criterion Collection. With the nonprofit model, the campaign website says, all revenues will go towards “paying employees a living wage, covering bills, and expanding the collection.”

Video stores were a ubiquitous feature of American life throughout the 1980s and ’90s — but the rise of Netflix, on-demand video, and other changing models of video distribution mostly snuffed the sector out throughout the early 2000s. There are a few remaining video stores, including Viva Video — in Ardmore, Pennsylvania — which itself grew out of the Philadelphia area’s now-defunct TLA Video chain.

The store opens on Friday, December 14. It will only be open on weekends in December, before expanding its hours in January and February.

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