It was a fine relationship in the beginning. Though I spent my first few shifts wearing holes into my sneakers, checking in videos, digging through drop-boxes until my fingers started to bleed and carrying stacks upon stacks of new releases to be shelved in behemoth sections advertising the “guaranteed” presence of the vapid film du jour, I didn’t really mind. I was working at a video store, after all; that had been my goal.
I mean, yes, the smell of stale, boxed gummy bears and generic balls of chocolate and cookie dough or whatever started to get to me after a week or so. The screaming babies overrunning the “Family” section, paying no mind to my careful organizational triumphs and tossing copies of “David the Gnome” into the aisles and rearranging all of the Disney movies in some inexplicable pyramid of entropy-those were really fucking annoying, too. Ringing up customers that were dressed in Armani suits who refused to pay $3.75 late fees-I didn’t much like that, either. But what really got to me after a while was the corporate air (and reality) about the store-all the red tape, all of the impersonality, all of the strange policies and the almost complete disregard for choices out of the mainstream. The “man,” if you will, could be damned as far as I was concerned.
Imagine my delight when a few years later, now at college and no longer mired in any bizarre loyalty to an organization I loathed, I stumbled upon Video To Go. Nestled in a strange little strip mall off of University Drive, Video To Go is unassuming even in outward appearance. A simple blue sign with cheeky little cartoon feet on the “Go” adorns its facade; eclipsed by its more gaudy neighbors-Carla’s Beauty Creations and a shady little liquor outfit. Upon entering you’ll find something equally unpretentious and refreshingly honest-an endearingly messy, colorfully staffed and decorated little shop; the stuff of a film buff’s (or just a movie fan’s) dreams.
They have everything you would expect from a “neighborhood” video outfit and more. They have the typical sections: comedy, drama, horror, foreign, etc. The sections are well-organized alphabetically, and are wonderfully thorough; a particularly surprising fact when consideration is given to the relatively small size of the operation. The store also boasts a remarkable selection of more off-beat choices, including a gay and lesbian section, a documentary film section, a black culture section, an astounding television/cartoon section, a British section, an experimental film section and a cult film section. Additionally, the store has chosen to organize itself on another level concerning pivotal directors and actors that span many genres and eras. They also feature a case of “Staff Picks” (which have always been delightfully well-rounded and have succeeded in educating me on several occasions) as well as the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films. The store offers a deal that won’t decimate your wallet, the “five for five for five” deal, wherein you can get five catalogue releases for five days for five dollars-music to a bored and poor college student’s ears.
Last, but certainly not least, are Video To Go’s knowledgeable and friendly employees. Always helpful and particularly eclectic personalities abound in this store, and though you always have the sense that you’re talking to someone who knows their movies you never feel condescended to, nor do you get the sense that they don’t care about your questions or about your tastes. I was particularly won over on my last visit, when a smiling twenty-something wearing a Transformers tee shirt and an adorable, absently tousled head of hair complemented me on my choice of “The Wizard,” an ’80s film about Super Mario Bros. 3 starring Fred Savage. “This is solid,” he said.
So’s your store, man.