Video Rental Stores Get Creative to Stay Afloat in Age of Netflix

NEW YORK CITY — As Netflix and video on demand drove the final nails into the coffin of the video rental business several years ago, Wendy Chamberlain, owner of Williamsburg’s Videology, was faced with a choice: close the store for good, or find a new source of income.

She chose to stay open, overhauling the 308 Bedford Ave. shop in 2011 to add a bar and screening room. She trained some of her staff as bartenders and moved most of her inventory of 16,000 titles to the basement.

“We couldn’t just give up,” Chamberlain said. “We hated the idea of not being able to be here and rent movies to people anymore.”

While small video rental shops across the city have closed and even once-dominant video giant Blockbuster was forced into bankruptcy, a handful of owners are renovating and innovating to keep their businesses afloat.

Some have focused on extras …

And then there were 2: Brooklyn’s final video rental stores

Video killed the radio star, DVDs killed the video star, DVR killed the DVD star, and streaming will likely be the name of the endgame until the next best thing rears its head. While radio lives on in cars and showers, alarm clocks and in an altered state online, however, the video rental shop is reaching a point of total eradication, deader even than the VHS tape itself.

Gone are the days when rental shops abounded, feeling more frequent than supermarkets in some neighborhoods, and not just the porno video stores. No, these were local shops with lovingly curated collections and reliably well-watched staffers always busy rewatching some forgotten foreign flick in the corner, ready and able to provide their feelings on your selection with varying amount of judgement depending on the pick.

Park Slope had enough rental spots at a time to merit a Yelp subsection dedicated solely to …

The Battle For New York City’s Video Store Culture

After thirty-three years, Videorama is closing. The store, standing at the corner of Dahill Road and 18th Avenue in Borough Park, was the first in its neighborhood. It’s possibly the last place in blue-collar Brooklyn to survive almost entirely on DVD rentals and sales. Though it’s outlived several competitors, it cannot battle the lure of streaming, torrents, and an overall dwindling demand for physical media. Tommy Pittas, a Brooklyn native who took over the business following his father’s retirement, considers the store’s resilience “a labor of love.” Kept afloat by transfers of video or film to disc, he spent the last year debating whether to keep the store running much longer, finally vowing to close the doors in early March (the 7th, to be exact). “It’s not only a financial decision,” Pittas reasons, “but an emotional one.”

The losing battle of video rental and retail is hardly news. Plenty of …