View Points

Vidiots is the Story of a Santa Monica Video Store That Found a New Mission In Order to Survive

January 13, 2015 by Brian Champlin

In many way jokes about dying video stores are almost as archaic as the very notion of getting in your car and going to a physical place in order to rent movies.

Streaming movies and TV shows nowadays is pretty much as ubiquitous as texting our friends or posting on social media, and we’re probably only a few years away from having an entire generation of young adults who have zero recollections of going to a Blockbuster on a Friday night and browsing for titles that the family might watch together that evening.

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Not that I’m lamenting this necessarily.

But this tectonic shift in the landscape of film and television consumption is the precise reason why a small business like Vidiots, a Santa Monica video store open for more than 30 years (previously proclaimed by the LA Weekly as the Best Video Store in L.A.), has positioned themselves as a public trust. A place people come to to browse history, to find the obscure. To talk shop and get recommendations from people in real life.

What once was a retail store is now a museum. A library. A non-profit. And a pretty cool one at that.

The Vidiots Foundation has a mission (since 2012) to keep the spirit of cinema alive, to preserve stories (they have like 50,000 titles) that may otherwise be forgotten, and may actually not even exist in any other format.  It’s a place where people can gather and discuss film. Where you hang out and learn.

Now, there is no doubt in the coming decades, as the marginal costs of streaming video shrinks even lower, we’ll slowly see the end of physical video stores altogether. Yet that doesn’t mean that there can’t be places like Vidiots where history continues to live.

In any case, if the story piques your interest,  as it did mine, check out this mini-documentary (embedded below) recently released on the Academy Originals YouTube Channel. Totally worth your 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

[Reddit]

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