Video stores have been compared to drive-ins, which I think misses the point of video stores. Sure, both are arguably outmoded ways of engaging with film, but video stores are also libraries.
The great fraud of streaming services—and, perhaps, the entire internet—is that we believe them to contain everything. But anyone who has been to Seattle's Scarecrow Video knows that this isn't true.
Scarecrow, the world's largest video library, currently has around 130,000 available titles. Netflix, by my last count, has less than 4,000 available in the United States. Amazon's Prime Video, while roughly four times larger than Netflix, still only offers a fraction of what you find in Scarecrow's library.
Which is to say, video stores are important. New ones, like Baltimore's Beyond Video, seem to be popping up as we head into the new decade and viewers realize the limitations of streaming.
At the Video Store—a new documentary featuring interviews with John Waters, Bill Hader, Nicole Holofcener, Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Thelma Schoonmaker, and The Stranger's own Charles Mudede—catalogs the great remaining video stores in the United States, including Scarecrow and Portland's Movie Madness.
There are some painfully corny creative choices (you will wince when the original country music starts playing, it's so white), and some of the interviews are a bit dated, but the documentary deserves to be seen.
Director James Westby will be in attendance at the Wednesday, January 15, screening.