Video Store Champions: CineFile Video

Los Angeles remains the movie capital of the world. With all of the movies being made within the city limits, it only makes sense that there would be a few indie shops stocking their shelves with the wide range of what the industry has to offer. We spoke to Sebastian Mathews, the owner of CineFile Video, about the significance of the modern day video store.

The CineFile storefront.
The CineFile storefront.
How long has CineFile Video been in operation?
Since 1999.
There are several independent rental stores in Los Angeles. What separates your store from the others?
 CineFile brags a collection of over 45,000 DVD’s, VHS and Blu-rays. We rent and sell out of our library and we have great relationships with production companies, studios, and creatives. This means we often have the title that you can’t find anywhere else in the city, or the nation!
A full view of the store.

A full view of the store.

What sort of experience are you trying to create for a customer who enters your store?
With the availability of film and TV on the internet, either through legal streaming options or illegal downloads, the competition to provide the customer what they want, when they want and at the right price has become pretty cut throat… But what we will always provide is a friendly, inviting and informative experience. No algorithm will ever compare to the recommendation from a knowledgeable salesperson that you’ve come to know and like. We are not co-opted by corporate verticals, and we don’t have to rent major releases exclusively because that’s what makes us the most money. This means we can be honest about what we like and don’t like. Because of these factors, shops like ours are arbiters of taste and culture preservationists! In the future, we hope that CineFile becomes an even better resource to independent filmmakers, who we believe deserve a larger voice in the landscape of the LA entertainment industry.
VHS tapes for sale!!!

VHS tapes for sale!!!

Are most of your customers long-time renters or is the rental community growing?
We have tons of loyal, long-time customers. We love them to death for keeping us alive. We are now also taking steps to attract new customers to the shop. We have a brand new socially integrated loyalty program and a new, easily updated website built on tumblr. We are stocking more hard to find titles on region free blu-ray and creating a lot more sell-through product. We believe that all of these efforts will result in the growth of memberships in the 20-35 year old demographic.

Some of the sub-sections in the CineFile library.

Some of the sub-sections in the CineFile library.

Why do you feel the video store is an important business and what will be lost if it ceases to exist?
People deserve as many options as possible when it comes to how they select and digest their media. Being able to explore the world of film and TV in a physical locale– to pull things off the shelf and show it to a friend– that’s an experience that has been around for a long time and shouldn’t be lost. If we are forced to search for our media solely through screens and touch screens, there is a very real dimension of exploration that will disappear. Get rid of the book stores, the record shops, the movie rentals and libraries, and well… where the hell are you supposed to meet cute??

Best Video Store in LA 2013!

Best Video Store in LA 2013!

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