Friday, March 23, 2012

Why Are Park Slope's Video Stores Closing?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 3:15 PM

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Another video store is closing in Park Slope. The Real Life South, on Eighth Avenue off 11th Street, will scan its last bar code on Thursday, Here's Park Slope reports. I know what you're thinking—the age of the video store has passed, so such news is inevitable. But that's an old trend; most Brooklyn neighborhoods lost their local video stores years ago (and recently lost their Blockbusters, too). As recently as twelve months ago, however, Park Slope still had five video stores, most of them independent. Five. In contrast, Williamsburg had two. Bay Ridge had a Blockbuster (which has since closed).

Then, last March, the Park Slope Blockbuster closed. Video Forum folded soon after. And now Reel Life South has gone south. It might be that either end of the neighborhood could no longer support two video stores each, what with Netflix streaming so many television shows. (And Blockbuster has its own financial problems separate from local economies.) But there could be something else at play here besides the obvious.

Last year, we spoke to Reel Life South's owner, who attributed his survival to his customers. "We have some really loyal customers, and certainly we've lost a lot, just by Netflix, but we definitely do have a loyal customer base... people with a well-rounded view of movies tend to appreciate us a little more."

At the same time, the owner of North Slope's Get Reel Video also attributed her success to cinephiles. "Our numbers are definitely down from our previous years, and it's due to the instantaneous streaming of movies, especially TV shows on Hulu." But, she added, "our demographics are changing a lot [too], so the more rounded film lovers or artists are being replaced with a more homogeneous or gentrified community, who are more into blockbuster titles and mainstream movies."

If film lovers kept Park Slope's video stores alive, what's to blame for the stores' suddenly thinned ranks? Have the local film lovers moved on to streaming video (five years behind everyone else)? Or on to different communities?

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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