About a week ago, the owners of 33-year-old Video Wave of Noe Valley launched a GoFundMe campaign to help keep the store in business. The 24th Street video store is in jeopardy with the departure of its co-tenant, Buttons Candy Bar, which is set to close at the end of October.
This isn't the first time Video Wave has been in danger of closing. The store, which first opened at 1431 Castro St. in 1983, had to move last year when its landlord threatened to double the rent. In September 2015, Video Wave's owners, Colin Cofini Hutton and Gwen Sanderson, were able to move in with Buttons at 4027 24th St., but now that the candy store is closing, they need $10,000 for a security deposit to take over the entire space.
When Video Wave first had to relocate, they received a significant amount of support from neighbors, Hutton said, ranging from a donation jar that helped pay for moving expenses to people lending out a moving truck and literally carrying boxes and equipment down the street.
He decided to create the GoFundMe page because neighbors had been asking how they could help Video Wave remain in the neighborhood. "We're providing a way for community members who are interested in keeping us here ... they now have a way to do it," Hutton said.
So far, they've collected a little over $2,500. "I don't think that we are going to raise $10K—we are just a small local video store," Hutton said. "But with all of the expenses we have, that's how much we need. Everything we can get helps."
Operating an old-school video store in 2016 isn't easy. In the past year, the Sunset's 35-year-old Le Video shut down, while the Mission's Lost Weekend Video closed its longtime brick-and-mortar space and opened a kiosk in the lobby of the Alamo Drafthouse theater. But Hutton believes that video stores still have value, since a lot of people don't often know know what they want, and browsing on other services "is terrible."
"We've been curating a selection for 30 years, so we have a distillation of what's good," he said, noting that the store boasts a lot of rare selections on DVD, VHS, and Blu-Ray, and an expansive collection of documentaries and foreign films. "We know movies and can make recommendations."
Ideally, Hutton and Sanderson would like the video store to occupy the entirety of the 24th Street location, to make room for the boxes of videos they currently have in storage. However, that will depend on funding. Their backup plan is to make room for a pop-up co-tenant, perhaps for artists or beer brewers, in the extra space.
"We want to preserve our collection, but really, by proxy, it's the city's collection. We don't think of it as 'our collection' or 'Noe Valley's collection,'" Hutton said. "We feel like that's important to provide the breadth of history of cinema and TV. That preservation part of it is definitely one of the main reasons why we work so hard and don't make a lot of money, but we feel it's important, just like we feel about used bookstores and used record stores."
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