Yes, there was a time not so long ago that you went to a video store to rent the best movies. In most places, this practice has become a lost art, buried by the relentless sands of time and old VCRs. But New York still maintains a tidy list of antique stores, er, video rental stores that keep this old-school practice alive. And that’s a good thing, if only for ensuring that our film horizons stay broader than the available movies on Netflix. You can finally find the director’s cut of the Gothic Spaghetti Western (Sella del Vampiro!) that you’ve wanted to see since forever.
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Every remaining video store in NYC
Here’s how this snug Upper East Side shop works: First, buy a block of rentals in advance (minimum is 10). Then, at your leisure online, reserve whatever flicks you want to see, and they’re delivered to your door. If you’re looking to supplement that Netflix catalog with some solid choices, these guys can help.
Movie guru Aaron Hillis and his wife, Jennifer Loeber, curate this Brooklyn boutique, which they furnish with the very best in film. For a regular dose of his tastemaker talk, check out Aaron’s popular podcast, DVD Is the New Vinyl.
Maybe you’re searching for an obscure cult classic or foreign film. Or perhaps you seek to satiate your appetite for a gritty noir. In either case, this shabby bohemian storefront should rank first on your list of where to look. Nix Netflix and chill—try a Fellini and Bellini instead.
Since 1978, this spot has been catering to New Yorkers’ cinematic cravings. Nowadays, it stocks more than 17,000 titles (which is, in case you were wondering, more than triples the current selection on Netflix). Plus, for $3 a month, you can become a Gold Member—that means free delivery and pick up.
This indie micro-cinema in Williamsburg hosts small screenings accompanied by full-service food and drink. And the showings are often full-on shindigs—so you can get down doing things like Wes Anderson bingo while you watch. It also has a pretty massive (around 17,000) DVD collection you can (and should) rent from on the regular.
While we’re on the subject of the lost art of renting movies, we’d be remiss not to mention the city’s public libraries, especially this one. It’s been amassing its film collection since 1953 and now has more than 5,000 VHS tapes and 1,200 DVDs. You may as well check it out—it’s free to rent one for a week—all you have to do is get your library card minted right quick and then watch all the Natalie Portman movies or Mark Wahlberg movies you want on videocassette.