End of an Era: Closing of Local Video Store

Movie PostersImage by MLHS via Flickr

Within the last few months, several local establishments have closed.  The first to go was just down the street.  The local video store that provided what Hollywood had to offer, along with a few specialty sections.  The latest, Pleasant Street Video in Northampton, MA, leaves a huge hole in the fabric of our community after 25 years of faithful service.

Pleasant Street Video wasn't your common variety video store.  The folks at Pleasant Street were the purveyors of hard to find documentaries, classic film noir, as well as films by the great directors such as Bergman, Fellini, Ozu, Wenders, Ford, Tarkovski, Buñuel, Scorsese, Varda and the mother of American avantegarde films, Maya Deren.  Also available at this little corner shop in downtown Northampton were films from around the world.  

The staff, especially Bill and Dana, both of whom Roger and I saw the most, were aficionados of film, who could recommend films that built on an interest or idea one was researching.  We learned as much from them as we did from the films.

I will always remember watching the movie by Iranian director, Samira Makhmalbaf, Blackboards about the struggle of teachers to reach students on the Iran/Iraq border.  The teachers literally carry the blackboards on their backs to wherever the students might be living.  

I never would have seen this powerfully emotional saga if it weren't for Pleasant Street Video.

Other films that deeply touched me were
  • Wings of Desire
  • Far Away So Close
  • Tokyo Story
  • The Man the Fell to Earth
  • The Gleaners and I
  • Seventh Seal
  • The Sacrifice
So, why are so many of our local video establishments closing?  Simple answer - the internet.  Online companies - you know their names - have driven the local market out of business. This is something we are witnessing happening to local businesses around the country.

Americans forget that we vote with our purses.  We also forget that when we support giant corporations, we turn our backs on our neighbors, sometimes even undermining our own livelihood.

 Forbes Library, Northampton, MA
The good news for those who frequented Pleasant Street Video is that their collection of films will be given to the Forbes Library in Northampton.  This assures that those of us who enjoy film - artwork in video form, not simply mindless entertainment - will still be able to find works that stimulate, inform, instruct, question, criticize, admire, admonish as well as entertain.

Those interested in aiding the transfer of films to the Forbes Library may donate at Save the Catalog.  On this page, you also have the option of saving a specific film.  Thanks to all who already have helped preserve this amazing film legacy.


Photo Credit: By Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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