Editor’s Note: On March 21, Movies Worth Seeing sent an email to its customer announcing its imminent closure. We are sad to see it go, especially in light of this article that appeared in our March edition.
By Annie Kinnett Nichols
In a world where you get movies in the mail, at kiosks or download them online, you’d think that video stores, especially the mom and pop variety, would have folded by now. Thankfully, the opposite is true.
Movies Worth Seeing in Morningside and Videodrome in Poncey-Highland continue to rent movies the old fashioned way, where loyal customers come in and browse the shelves of DVDs and VHS tapes (remember those?) to find the perfect movie.
Both stores boast staffs that have been there for years and have an enormous amount of knowledge of all things film. You have a question about movies – they’ll have the answer. Both shops have a great passion and numerous opinions about movies, directors, genres, cinematography and documentaries. Basically, they know something about almost every video or DVD that line their shelves.
How are they succeeding when even Blockbuster is failing? It’s simple – the owners are passionate about movies.
When Ann and Jerry Rubenstein got tired of the limited number of movies available at local video stores, they opened Movies Worth Seeing (moviesworthseeing.com). Advised by distributors and other stores not to open a store based on taste, the Rubensteins were told by all they would never make it. The naysayers were wrong. The shop celebrated its 25th anniversary in November and has 10,000 titles on VHS and DVD.
Their first customer to have a membership card at Movies Worth Seeing was the guy who painted the inside of the store, the Rubensteins said. With a membership now in the 70,000 range, those with the early numbers covet their cards. Several have been fought over in divorces and kids of kids of original members still rent under their parents and grandparents number.
Matt Booth opened Videodrome (videodromeatl.com) at the prominent corner of North and North Highland avenues because he wanted to have a store in his own neighborhood that offered all his favorites. Booth worked at the now defunct Video Update and Mooovies in Little Five Points, building his knowledge base of films and what customers wanted and saved his money to start Videodrome.
Booth said he wanted more movies that were on the edge of the corporate culture. “Whatever the masses wanted, in the beginning, I wouldn’t even touch,” Booth said. Right now he’s into modern Asian movies like Chung King Express by director Wong Kar-wai and French director Jean Pierre Melville also has his attention.
“It’s always changing, I’m always exploring something new. And I love the eclectic research on the Internet that is so available now,” he said. Booth also believes in bringing in titles and films that the local residents want.
With the way we watch films constantly evolving, it’s nice to know these two shops are doing it the old fashioned way – sharing their love of movies, knowledge and in-person customer service.