Le Morte de Video Americain

Down to one, and then there were none…

 By Tom Warner (Baltimore Or Less)

Video Americain's Roland Park store was featured in the films An Accidental Tourist and Serial Mom.

Video Americain’s Roland Park store was featured in the films An Accidental Tourist and Serial Mom.

We are distraught to hear the news: Video Americain is officially dead. (Read Chris Kaltenbach’s Baltimore Sun obit, “Video Americain to begin selling off its inventory this week.“)

Baltimore’s premiere independent video rental store closed its doors Monday night after failing to reach an agreement with the Baltimore Video Collective (or BVC, the Eric Allen Hatch-helmed group that had hoped to buy owners Barry and Annie Solan’s entire 35,000-title inventory) and will only reopen starting this Friday, December 6, to begin selling off its prestigious collection of used videos and DVDs representing a film lover’s treasure chest of gems, including many rarities that are either hard-to-find or simply out-of-print. The Solans anticipate the sale lasting through March of 2014.

In its heyday, the Video Americain Empire stretched from its original Newark, DE base to stores in Roland Park, Charles Village, Towson, Lauraville, Tacoma Park, and even Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. All have bitten the dust as Netflix, video streaming technology, and mobile viewing devices led to The Click vanquishing The Brick, with more and more people choosing to download or mail-order movies rather than visiting a physical location. The popular Charles Village store closed its doors in 2012, selling off a sizable chunk of its inventory to Johns Hopkins University, as well as the general public. The Roland Park store, which made cameos in the movies The Accidental Tourist and John Waters’ Serial Mom, represented VA’s last stand. And now, it too has given up the ghost.

The BVC web site lamented this latest chapter in the ongoing VA saga, stating, “The members of the Baltimore Video Collective are sad to hear the news that the Cold Spring Lane Video Americain, the last remaining location in the chain, plans to close in the coming months. Video Americain has throughout its long history been a wonderful resource for film lovers, and a major force in the cultural life of this city. We remain hopeful that this collection, or at least key portions of it, may be able to remain in Baltimore, and we are in the process of exploring possibilities towards that goal.”

Video Americain’s web site posted this Buzzfeed YouTube clip that is a fitting epitaph to the demise of the video rental store: “Video Stores Explained To Modern Kids.”

We think that says it all. (OK, we just wish it hadn’t shown so many Blockbusters, as this populist trash video franchise was the antithesis of everything Video Americain stood for. We weep not for thee, Blockbusters!)

Store manager Scott Wallace Brown looks over the last remnants of Video Americain's legendary inventory.

Store manager Scott Wallace Brown looks over the last remnants of Video Americain’s legendary inventory.

This entry was posted in Baltimore Films, Films, Neighborhoods, Obituaries, Roadside Attractions, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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