Earlier this week, we ran a story about what’s keeping independent video stores alive in Park Slope while the chains go out of business; according to owners and clerks, it’s the customers, who appreciate the personal touch that Netflix can’t replicate. Christine Kim, the owner of Get Reel, blocks away from the Atlantic Yards site on the Slope’s north end, got back to me by e-mail after our piece ran to offer her take.
“I agree with the others, it’s our loyal customers who sustain us,” she wrote. “When I ask my customers why they like my store the consistent answer I get is that they like the experience—being able to browse, look at the artwork, read reviews and interact with a live person who knows film. It’s like joining a film club more than a video store.” But are these loyal customers a dying breed?
“Our numbers are definitely down from our previous years, and it’s due to the instantaneous streaming of movies, especially TV shows on Hulu,” she continued. “Our demographics are changing a lot, 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.”
Much ink has been spilled as of late on how the Atlantic Yards project could draw an undesirable element to Park Slope. Could it also draw enough philistines that the neighborhood’s hitherto Rasputin-strength independent video stores are finally put out of business?
The video store is dead anyway – it won’t be gentrification that kills it. The idea that a person needs to go to a storefront to pick up digital content in person is going to seem absurd sooner rather than later.
It has nothing to do with gentrification, it has to do with modernization and the new ways digital content is available. Video stores (the very name of which is already an archaic relic of another time) are passe – that not how people consume media anymore. The stores in Park Slope are lucky that there is an audience that has sort of a vintage appreciation for their kind — throughout the rest of the country these stores started disappearing years ago.