End of an era: Kim's Video closes its doors

The last branch of the great (and greatly troubled) movie rental store is on its way out

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If you were a movie-obsessed youth living in New York in the '90s (as this writer was), it was practically a prerequisite that you had a membership at Kim's Video. Forget your Blockbusters and your Hollywood Videos—this was a movie rental store that catered more to the fringe cinephile than the Tinseltown consumer. Oh sure, they had plenty of copies of Speed if you wanted it (this guy is currently after every VHS copy if you feel like helping out). But what if you felt like renting all of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's monumental 13-hour–plus epic Berlin Alexanderplatz, or wanted to buy a rare import DVD of the original pilot episode of Twin Peaks, which at the time couldn't legally be released stateside? Kim's was the place for you, and its reach was citywide: the three-level flagship store on St. Marks, branches in the East and West Village, even a location all the way uptown by Columbia University.

It was a movie lover's paradise: Future indie director Alex Ross Perry and his frequent cinematographer Sean Price Williams were longtime clerks; even Quentin Tarantino stopped in on occasion to rent kung fu flicks and Mark Rappaport's From the Journals of Jean Seberg. Behind it all was the mysterious owner, Mr. Kim, whose business practices were suspect to say the least. It was probably inevitable that, when streaming video impinged on the home rental market, the business was doomed. Most of the branches closed first, then the St. Marks locale, its massive inventory controversially moved to a town in Sicily. (Read this L.A. Weekly feature by Karina Longworth for more on that debacle.) All that's remained for the last few years is a First Avenue Kim's that dispensed with rentals and concentrated more on sales of movies and music. Now word comes that that location is closing come summer and a house-cleaning sale is on.

To everything there is a season. At least we have a few more months to pay our respects to Gotham's last great video store.


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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