RVA just lost one of its crown jewels.
A longtime mainstay in the Fan district, Richmond’s Video Fan announced last week it was closing its doors effective immediately after 31 years. We at Naro Video are heartbroken to see yet another of our brick-and-mortar comrades fall.
Citing sustainability issues, Video Fan stated they could no longer continue operations in their present location. But they are keeping their collection together in the hopes of finding a new home for it soon. Three years ago, Video Fan did what a handful of video rental stores across the country had begun doing in the age of declining business and increased digital streaming – they became a non-profit. Naro Video followed suit last year by obtaining 501(c)(3) non-profit status, reincorporating ourselves as Naro Expanded Video Archival Library based on the historical and educational value of our collection.
Scarecrow Video out of Seattle, Washington, led the way in educating the public on the importance of maintaining video stores as valuable sources of film and cultural history and, yes, entertainment. The success of their Scarecrow Project has allowed them to continue operations and inspired the rest of us to take up the cause.
Since becoming a non-profit, we’ve started hosting monthly Naro-Minded modern classic film shows at Naro Expanded Cinema. We just hosted Spike Lee’s seminal “Do the Right Thing” in June and are ready to roll with “The Big Lebowski” on July 14th. We’ve hosted educational events showing films to schools and lecturing on the Western genre at the Chrysler Museum of Art. We are actively looking for more opportunities in the community to foster an appreciation for film and film history for people of all ages, and we plan to restart and grow our in-store Naro Video Film School in August.
We’re the last brick-and-mortar video rental store of our kind left in Hampton Roads, with over 42,000 film and television titles that have been carefully curated over the years. We now remain as one of roughly a dozen video rental outlets in the nation with a selection of this breadth. But we are not without hardships.
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services have become the dominant source of home entertainment. We get it. However, the convenience trap of streaming services comes at a great loss to many film and television lovers. Your choices online are inherently limited. Hulu no longer streams the Criterion Collection. Amazon’s online rental and purchase options are expensive. Netflix currently has fewer than 5,000 titles available to stream. While it’s possible to find something worthwhile among what they offer, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to seek the specific titles you actually want to see. That’s something most people across the country have been forced to settle for since they have no alternative.
Naro Video is not in competition with streaming services because, when it comes to the size, quality, and permanence of our rental collection, there is no rival online. Thanks to us, Hampton Roads is home to the largest and best rental selection in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States. We have been selecting the full range of films that are popular, important, outstanding, interesting, and just plain fun all for you to peruse, rent, and enjoy.
We’re talking about MOVIES, most of all the ones you know and should know. The cartoons you loved as a kid. The indie films you took a date to at the Naro Cinema. The blockbuster film you stood in line at midnight for. That obscure cult classic you saw on TV in the middle of the night years ago. That foreign film you had to track down for a college class. That television series you’ve been meaning to get around to for years. That movie you loved on Netflix that’s no longer there. That movie series you have to catch up with before the new sequel comes out. Your favorite comedy you need to show your new boyfriend to see whether he has a sense of humor. That movie that’s supposed to be one of the most hilariously awful films of all time. The movie that made you fall in love with movies. The movie that convinced someone there was a reason to keep living. Movies that you get to see your children fall in love with the same way you did when you were a kid. Movies that make us who we are.
This is what makes Naro Video (and Ghent and Norfolk and Hampton Roads and Virginia) so special. We still have this gigantic, and ever-growing, library of film unmatched even by the big machine.
We at Naro Video love this community. We adore our customers and supporters… and for those who aren’t part of this yet, get in here already! This collection is not something you can truly wrap your mind around until you get lost in our labyrinthine aisles, see the hundreds of specialized sections, and realize that you’re surrounded by pretty much every movie you’ve ever seen and could want to see all at once. Meet our movie-loving staff, and rent some great films. If you don’t already know, find out what makes this place so unique.
What we must ask is: Do you consider Naro Video to be a valuable part of this area? Does it add substantially to the allure and joy of living here? Do you want Hampton Roads to be known as the home to this amazing and substantial collection of movies? Naro Video, as a non-profit entity, can and will survive thanks to both your rentals and generous donations. We’ve been a cinephile haven for more than two decades, but now need your support more than ever to continue with our mission and expand our collection.
At NaroVideo.org, you can make a tax deductible donation this very moment to keep Naro Video open for years to come. Also, if you are interested in being an active part of our non-profit board, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with our current interim board. And keep an eye on the website and on our Facebook page to see what sorts of exciting plans we have this fall!
This giant, beautiful collection of movies is still here for you, and we can only keep going with your support.
Video Fan is gone for now. Naro Video is still here.
This article was written by the staff of Naro Video, which is led by husband and wife Tim Cooper and Linda McGreevy, who took over as owners in 1995 and generously donated the film collection to the Naro Expanded Video Archival Library non-profit in 2016. The other dedicated employees, many of whom have been working behind the counter for well over a decade, include Robert Copeland, Atlanta Daniel, William Laderberg, Angela Owens-Barnes, Katie Reidy, Michael Stypulkoski, Erik Swallow, Patrick C. Taylor, and Whitney Weireter.