Video Free Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens’ last standing video store, has been saved by film critic Aaron Hillis, who purchased the store last week and plans to re-open after some renovations, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).
Hillis, who lives down the block from Video Free Brooklyn and was a loyal customer since it opened on Smith Street in 2002, admitted to the paper that the idea of owning a video store in the age of Netflix and iTunes was a little crazy, but hopes to set himself apart by stocking hard-to-find titles and hold screenings in the shop.
"You can treat it in the same way as the vinyl resurgence,” Hillis told the Journal. “It's about being able to chat about movies with someone knowledgeable behind the counter, being able to pick up a box and not just click but have it in your hand.”
Hillis is currently looking to raise $50,000 through Video Free Brooklyn’s indiegogo.com page to completely renovate the space. According to their page, the floor is warped, the wood façade is rotting and the store is “long overdue” for a paint job. He also plans to install moveable shelves so the space can be cleared for film-related events, like screenings, talks and readings.
According to their fundraising campaign, they’ve already got some famous names to back the store – Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Bobcat Goldthwait, Robert Downey Sr. have all made contributions, as well as film distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories.
In July 2011, when Blockbuster Video was shuttering stores, and Netflix was planning on raising prices, and found plenty of local people who preferred the atmosphere of a local video store.
“I like supporting local guys and I particularly like this store,” said Josh Margolis, executive director of Gowanus Music Club, last year. “The people who run it are so fascinating and idiosyncratic and they seem to really know their stuff.”