Video Store Champions: Movie Madness

Welcome to the first installment in our “Video Store Champions” series, where we’ll be spotlighting video stores that are still in operation.  Every post will feature an interview with a representative from the store being profiled, as well as photos of the store itself. We’re kicking it off with Portland, Oregon’s Movie Madness. We talked to manager  H. Perry Horton about the store and its place in the community.

The majestic store front.

The majestic store front.

How long has Movie Madness been in operation?

We opened in 1992, just celebrated our 21st anniversary.

 
During your time there, you’ve seen a massive shift in how media is distributed. Has the proliferation of digital media had an impact on your business?

Digital media has absolutely had an effect on our business, most notably in the realm of new releases, of which we order approximately 20% less of than we did, say, five years ago. That’s to be expected, though, as new releases are the emphasis of streaming services. Catalog titles have taken a lesser hit, in part because of our wide selection of titles. In an unexpected turn, the onslaught of digital media actually helped our TV section, at least right out of the gate, when Netflix was only sending out one disc at a time of a series, we were renting the whole season, largely to customers who enjoy binge watching instead of the stop-and-go of waiting for subsequent discs or episodes. Since streaming has become the more predominant competitor, we’ve seen our numbers dip slightly, but we still see, on average, 400 transactions a day, so obviously people still like coming to see us.

Endless shelves filled with countless gems.

Endless shelves filled with countless gems.

What is it about the Movie Madness experience that keeps people coming back?

Catalog, catalog, catalog. We’ve got one of the largest collections of DVDs, Blu-Rays and VHS in the country, 90,000 titles and growing every single week. We’ve got stuff you can’t find on Netflix, or streaming, or anywhere. Plus, Movie Madness is a film fan’s dream destination, we’re not just renting movies here, we’re celebrating cinema everywhere you turn. We are the only video store in the world that doubles as a museum of movie memorabilia, including props and costumes from movies like Psycho, Casablanca, Aliens, Blade Runner, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather II, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Chinatown, and the list goes on and on. Mike Clark, the store’s owner, has created a place that is just as entertaining as the product we carry. We are a wholly unique outfit, staffed by film fanatics whose passion for movies is matched only by their knowledge.

A small sampling of the original movie props on display.

A small sampling of the original movie props on display.

 Do you think the success of the store is dependent on the culture of Portland or would the store find the same audience in another city?

I do think the people of Portland are intrinsic to our continued success. We live in a city where local means everything, and people – by and large – are genuinely interested in seeing the independent shop thrive over the corporate chains. Particularly in the Southeast part of town, where we are, which is populated by young, creative, social and cultured people. Not to say there aren’t other cities across the country where this sort of citizen exists, but in Portland the DIY attitude is very much in prevalent effect, and as such people here tend to reward those who have pulled themselves up by their own boot straps and created a successful independent business.

The severed ear from BLUE VELVET!!!

The severed ear from BLUE VELVET!!!

Why do you feel the video store is an important business and what will be lost if it ceases to exist?

Film was never intended to be something you experience on your own. We show them in large venues, on giant screens, in the hushed, attentive dark. Film is about sharing, whether it’s sub-intention is to educate, enlighten, or simply to entertain, film was meant to be experienced as a group, together. Even when we watch movies at home, we do it with friends and family, someone to share the experience with, because as good as a movie is, it’s better when there’s someone to talk about it with. The video store is the embodiment of that idea, because as opposed to the theater, which requires curbed enthusiasm, the video store is where you go to discover film, to talk about film, to experience it in a way that can’t be matched virtually. There are no clerks on Netflix, there are no other customers about, and while that may be an advantage to some people, you’re a liar if you say you’ve never had a good film recommended by a stranger. People sharing the movies they love, that’s what the video store is ultimately about, and yeah, you can do that in a chat forum or in the comments section of a website, but like everything else one can do online, the real thing’s always better. We lose the video store, we lose the tangible aspects of our film community, we lose our place to come together and share our knowledge, and we lose a little of the connection that binds us together as film fans. And that, to me and our customers at least, would be a damn shame.

A sampling of their fine video library.

A sampling of their fine video library.

 

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2 Comments

  1. ern2150
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    You should profile Rentertainment in Champaign, IL – dunno if most campus towns have something similar.

    • Posted November 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      We’ll look into it. Thanks for the recommendation!

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