By JON HIGHSMITH
ATLANTA – Despite the near total demise of the video rental industry, Videodrome – a video rental shop located in Atlanta’s rapidly developing Poncey Highland’s neighborhood – has remained a beloved fixture of local film enthusiasts.
With most retail video chains such as Blockbuster having declared bankruptcy and the hollowed-out video shops that have remained in their wake serving as proof to all of America’s changing culture, Videodrome has managed to stand firm in the digital era. How has the plucky store managed to stick around in the face of overwhelming odds?
According to Videdrome founder and owner Matt Booth, it’s not even an issue. In fact, competing with other video rental stores never even crossed his mind.
“I never even considered [Blockbuster] as competitors, honestly,” Booth said. “They were one of these giant corporations that were about moving their stock price. They didn’t really [know] the films they had. They weren’t for movie fans, and I feel like we’re for movie fans.”
With the walls filled with the kinds of cinema film buffs flock to, whether it’s Asian art cinema, old school horror, or B-film fare, the store offers a wide selection of films that would be impossible to find at other stores, or even Netflix.
Booth founded Videodrome in 1998. He previously worked for a Little Five Points shop called Video Update, and decided to start his own shop after deciding he could run things better himself. With Videodrome having just celebrated its 16th birthday, it’s hard to argue with him.
With Videodrome’s films-first focus and the employees’ deep level of personal interaction with their customers, the store’s clientele plays a big role in the store’s success. Booth is very focused on the community role that Videodrome plays in Atlanta.
“I feel like we’re better suited for the neighborhood. And that’s all we try to do, really, is just be a part of the neighborhood,” Booth said.
By his observation, the store’s clientele has remained largely the same in the last five years, with many dedicated customers returning to the store on a regular basis.
In fact, Videodrome’s interaction with its client base is so involved that several of their employees are former customers. Tommy Morgan, another employee of the store, recalls having been a frequent customer before becoming an employee.
“I was working at Movies Worth Seeing up the street and I was a customer here and I decided to come over here. I had more involvement with the store working over here,” he said.
Morgan has been working there since 2001 and is an example of the kind of DIY culture that Videodrome has maintained over the years.
Frequent customer Dan Wakefield attributes some of Videodrome’s success to its unpretentious quality.
“You just can’t fake that sort of thing. You can’t speed that process up, science hasn’t tackled it, yet,” Wakefield said.
He values the store’s laid-back personality. Instead of logging into Netflix, one can go to Videodrome and interact with fellow film fans. One can’t find that on Netflix. It’s an organic and natural way to discover new films and to access film culture.
Owner Booth doesn’t think Videodrome will be undergoing any sweeping changes any time soon. No, there won’t be a Videodrome equivalent to Redbox or a Videodrome smartphone app. As long as Atlanta residents continue to love movies and continue to support the store, they’ll keep chugging happily along, providing a service that is irreplaceable and inimitable.