Late last month, you may have thought Netflix had won: Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt was closed. In reality, the video-rental emporium was fighting back with a vengeance, by starting to install its own movie theater.
Scarecrow is busy reinventing itself as video stores shutter across the country. Now, as you enter its decorated door, to the left is VHSpresso, a coffee stand covered in movie posters and local art and—more often than not—manned by a mustachioed barista. To the right is an area under construction: 250 square feet that will become the new screening room, seating 30 to 40 people. During the day, the cozy spot will have coffee tables and racks of books to encourage lingering; it will also double as a venue for speaker sessions with directors and visiting filmmakers. The rest of the store remains a mecca for cinephiles: shelf upon shelf laden with more than 117,000 movies, the largest rental collection in the country.
With pugnacious resistance to a digital takedown, Scarecrow relies more than ever on the perks of brick and mortar: namely, decent coffee and film screenings. The theater should be finished around the end of October, and will soon show staff-selected flicks organized into themed events and festivals. And the man behind the coffee counter, Marc Palm, is as likeable a server as they come, down to his Midwestern charm and sleek handlebar mustache. His barrage of movie recommendations can keep you busy for weeks.
Palm plans to host a VHS Art New Wave show to coincide with Independent Video Store Day on October 20, featuring an interesting cross-section of local artists, including Max Clotfelter and David Lasky, offering their take on VHS box art. A cartoonist himself, Palm will create VHS boxes (now a relic from the past) for each artwork and display them along the store’s back wall. It’s yet another reason to stop by this month…maybe even stay a while.Independent Video Store Day
Oct 20, Scarecrow Video, sale/giveaways all day