NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In the creative destruction that accompanies free markets, we mourn the video store, where you’d peruse shelves of taped titles until settling on a feature for the night.
Places like Blockbuster have been retired by digital apps and streaming wonders of choice on screens that fit in your hand. But on a busy Norfolk boulevard, a museum of cinematic treasures attached to a legendary movie house in Ghent, has stood the test of time — until now.
Naro Video on Colley Avenue will rent its last videos Sunday, with returns due by August 25. The store is one of the largest of its kind on the East Coast. It has 45,000 titles, 30,000 more than Netflix’s steaming service, and has been a fixture next to the Naro Expanded Cinema for more than 20 years.
For Tom McElvy of Chesapeake, coming to Naro Video is about the hunt. He reflected as he carried seven DVDs. “It was like walking into an old bookstore, but then you discover all this stuff that you didn’t know existed and it’s so cool to come look at some of this.”
One of his choices: D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic “Birth of a Nation.”
“If this collection goes away, that’s going to be a major loss,” says Naro’s manager Patrick C. Taylor.
“It just comes down to money and nothing else that we’ve been able to survive longer than any other video store.”
Naro Video has survived with those loyal to the DVD and the home screen, but competition from streaming services has taken its toll. And while the theater next door will continue its love affair with movie buffs, Naro Video, with its neon lights and weathered movie posters is a fading version of American pop culture in its final scene.
And what of the extensive movie collection? Taylor says it will stay in the possession of the non-profit that has run the store over the last few years. He would not say if there is a some kind movie rental sequel planned, so stay tuned.