So here's some shitty news. Marc Mohan, the owner of N Mississippi's video store, Video Verite—and a movie critic for the Oregonian, and a hell of a nice guy—has announced on the store's Facebook page that he'll be closing up shop in mid-October:
We regret to announce that, barring a miracle, Video Verite will be closing on October 15th. We have tried to figure out a way to keep the store open despite the changes in the home entertainment industry, but it seems we cannot compete with the various other options now available.
While Netflix, those crappy Redboxes, and torrenting have made closures of local video stores inevitable, it still bums me out. There's nothing like wandering the aisles of a good video store—where you'll inevitably stumble across a film you'd otherwise never know about, or have some weird VHS or DVD cover kickstart a long-forgotten memory. When it comes to technology like Netflix, we're gaining a lot in convenience, but we're losing even more in personality, uniqueness, and charm. And as situations like Video Verite's prove, we usually don't know what we've given up until it's already gone. Or on its way out.
I emailed Mohan and asked him a few questions about what, exactly, brought about the store's closing, as well as what he's planning on doing next.
"The growth of both rent-by-mail and streaming/downloadable content have decimated the once-proud brick-and-mortar video rental industry," Mohan wrote. "I have been working in the biz since 1991, and since 1991 people have predicted this turn of events, which just goes to show that if you predict something long enough, eventually you'll be right. It always seemed obvious to me that the mainstream chain stores would be the first to go, and that proved to be the case. Independent stores, which catered to a more film-literate clientele, are the last holdouts, but now they are riding off into the digital sunset as well."
When I asked Mohan about the "miracle" he mentioned in his Facebook post that might keep the store in business, I was hoping he'd have something miraculous and video store-saving in mind. Heh. No. "You know, I regretted using that word 'miracle' as soon as I posted the thing, since I'm one of those dyed-in-the-wool atheists who gets annoyed when people refer to some act of human ingenuity or kindness as a miracle," he wrote. "All I meant by it was that, if some brave, patriotic, film-loving, culture-supporting hero of the people were to step forward and say, 'Yes, Marc, I will give you [redacted] dollars for the video store, lock, stock, and barrel,' then that would be a way for Video Verite to remain open for all the [film] loving folks in North Portland to enjoy. And that's what we really want, right? For the folks in North Portland to be happy!"
As for what's next for Mohan, he's pragmatic. "Once I get through the process of closing this puppy out, I will obviously have a little more free time," he wrote. "I hope to me more active in the Portland film community, devote some time to that long-awaited, semi-(not really)-autobiographical novel about coming of age in a mobile home park in Wisconsin, and, most crucially, not lose money every month. That'll be nice."
When I emailed Mohan those questions, I also told him I was sorry to hear of Video Verite's closing. Because, you know, I was. He responded exactly like a guy who loves movies enough to own a video store should. "I appreciate your (and others') condolences, but I'm pretty at peace with this," he wrote. "And with the fact that I just might have a little more time to watch some damn movies."