Video Store Closure Proves North Park Slope is Awful

03/16/2011 1:00 PM |


Since the neighborhood Blockbuster announced it’d close at the end of the month, we’ve been talking a lot about the relatively thriving indie-owned video store scene in Park Slope. Well, turns out it’s not exactly thriving: Video Forum, on Seventh Avenue between Carroll and Garfield, will join Blockbuster in shuttering by March’s end, Here’s Park Slope reported last week. This whittles down the number of independent video stores in Park Slope to three, which, of course, is still three more than most neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Everybody knows video stores are under attack on multiple fronts, including streaming video on the web and Netflix DVDs by mail, so it shouldn’t shock anyone that a single neighborhood can’t support so many old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar rental spots. But it doesn’t seem accidental that Video Forum was the first to go—in fact, it testifies to the shifting demographics, the decline, of Park Slope.

Christine Kim, who owns Get Reel, near Video Forum on Fifth Avenue and St. Marks, told us recently she worried that the neighborhood was changing, exchanging the kinds of artists who double as film lovers (and, say, would use the store’s dedicated Criterion section) for the tasteless rich, who are content to rent the latest blockbusters from their cable provider’s pay-per-view service.

This can only be compounded by the Atlantic Yards project, whose mall-complementing arena will transform the north end of Park Slope: already, an old Irish dive is remaking itself into a rock n’ roll sports bar. Festering anxieties over this transformation also inform, in part, the protests against a proposed nightclub on Flatbush and Sixth avenues, Prime 6, who some residents worried would attract an undesirable element.

North Slope is not artsy, or even well-off; increasingly, it’s becoming luxurious, and small businesses are finding it harder to stay there. Video Forum’s closing is not only part of a larger video-store trend, but a Seventh Avenue one, as well. “There are more than 15 empty storefronts on the avenue at the moment, an alarming statistic for Slopers who form a close attachment to their local stores and the people who work there,” Louise Crawford wrote on the Park Slope Patch earlier this week. “Many fear that the only businesses that can stay in business are cell phone stores, real estate firms and national chains.”

The first of the video stores to die was on the north end of Seventh Avenue because the kinds of customers who keep these places in business—people who want to shop locally, people who like movies—are increasingly disappearing from that quarter of the community. The young people, the politically conscious, the sorts who don’t sue the city over bike lanes, have been pushed out, relocating to the South Slope, where both Video Gallery and Reel Life South remain in business. For now.


6 Comment

  • This is possibly the stupidest article I have read in weeks. Should we feel bad for all those stores 100+ years ago who made wheels for horse carriages but went out of business when the “tasteless rich” began using automobiles en masse?

  • Honestly? The tasteless rich? Who the fuck do you think you are? Maybe it’s the “Latin lovers,” or the “drunk Irish” or the ‘militant Germans.” Fuck you with your gross generalizations. I’m not going to go into how stupid this logic is (hey, the struggling video store owner says this is what’s happening, so it must be true!). But the disgusting, smug precociousness of the author turns my stomach. This neighborhood looses a little bit of its “arty”ness every time you open your gob hole. Now shut the fuck up and go back to talking to yourself at home.

  • @ArtiePhilie no, and we’re not supposed to feel bad for the video store either. The point was that something larger, and perhaps more interesting than the mere closing of a video store (like neighborhood transformation/second wave gentrification) might be at play. Video stores aren’t closing everywhere–they ALREADY CLOSED, like, years ago. That there are still FOUR (now three) in a single neighborhood must mean that there’s something unique about Park Slope that keeps video stores in business. Maybe Park Slope just took longer to catch up with a national trend? But maybe not. You’re not supposed to feel bad about it, you’re just supposed to think about it.

    @smugdouche your comment is so tasteless!

  • I live in the North Slope and this is the most generalizing, ridiculous thing I’ve read in a long time. One video store closes and one old bar decides to renovate, and suddenly the whole neighborhood is headed down the toilet?

    I know a ton of people that live on my block, and there’s a good mix of both young couples who don’t have much money (lots of brownstones are still basically rooming houses), blacks, Latinos, and some young families in the mix, along with older boomers who’ve been there for a while. Everyone contributes to the community, even the “tastless rich,” whatever the hell that is.

    Yes, rents on Seventh are increasing, leading to some business closures, but many old mom and pop shops are still doing well, and to blame it on the people that live here is a gross generalization and a lame straw man.

  • ew, this is the most ridiculous article ever, sorry you hate park slope! but you’re investigation skills are terrible at best. i live a block away from the video store and used to go all the time, but since i’m a single 30 year old living on a measly salary and living in park slope, i had to switch to netflix for the fact that its $9.99/month unlimited movies, where the video store was $3.25 per rental! i also do not have cable, so i rent a lot, and their prices were ridiculous! i love the guys that work there and feel bad, but this article is effing bullshit.

  • What a god damned terrible example. When I moved to Park Slope 6 years ago, I lived in this general area and wanted to rent movies… only to be told that I needed to bring the video store owners utility bills, paystubs, and at one place, put $300 on hold in my checking account to rent from them “just in case.” Uh, what? No, fuck you. I’ll go elsewhere.

    No, I’m sorry. People who are interested in Art and Culture in video don’t necessarily rent at shitty hole in the wall video stores. I’m terribly sorry for the people in this neighborhood who shake their heads and wonder “What happened,” but it’s so plainly obvious that business models like these are dead.