Customers Bid Farewell To One Of The D.C. Region's Last Video Stores | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Customers Bid Farewell To One Of The D.C. Region's Last Video Stores

Play associated audio
As Potomac Video closes its doors, customer Carrie Armstrong (shown with son Ben) says it's a shame that the Internet has taken over movie rentals.
Andrew Katz-Moses/WAMU
As Potomac Video closes its doors, customer Carrie Armstrong (shown with son Ben) says it's a shame that the Internet has taken over movie rentals.

One of D.C.'s last remaining video stores is shutting its doors. Customers say it isn't just the movies they'll miss, but an American tradition.

Tad Tharpe is balancing 25 movies as he gets to the register.

"I'm buying them all. The greatest classics; you can't even get these anymore on any website," Tharpe says.

Potomac Video in Northwest D.C. is a few blocks from Chevy Chase Circle. It's closing down, and everything is for sale. Tharpe says it's a huge loss. "One of the greatest things about growing up was going to the video store with your parents to pick out a movie," he says. "It was part of the American experience. Now, younger people won't be able to do that."

"At our peak we had 22 stores in three different states and the District," says Jon Francke, who bought movies to stock the shelves of all those stores. He says this store is the last one to close. There are approximately 60,000 titles—you could find everything from the latest blockbuster to niche foreign films to obscure documentaries. Francke says business always plummets during spring.

"The owner was looking at projections from last year, and last year he did lose $3,000 to $4,000 per month for March, April and May, and he was looking at it this year and going, 'I can't do that again this year.'"

Francke says there are some titles he will miss.

"They all have to go, but every once in a while I see one that leaves, and I was like, 'I may never see that movie again'—[like] 'Garden of the Finzi-Continis,' an extremely rare DVD. It's an Italian post neo-realist film from the '60s." [Ed. note: The film was released in 1970.]

Carrie Armstrong says she's sad the video store is going out of business. "Because everyone's shut in their house looking at a computer," she says. "It's nice to be able go to a store where you can put your hands on something and talk to people and get advice. It's sort of social."

But Jon Francke, who used to spend approximately $1 million a year buying movies for Potomac Video stores, understands that people like the ease of watching a movie online. He himself has a subscription to Amazon Prime and his girlfriend has a Netflix account.

NPR

Full Of Complexity And Ambivalence, 'American Sniper' Shows The Cost Of War

The film about a Navy SEAL whose service in Iraq made him a mythic figure has become a cultural lightning rod. But the squabbles are too simple for a low-key movie striking in its lack of stridency.
NPR

Why Dump Treated Wastewater When You Could Make Beer With It?

An Oregon company has developed a high-tech process for turning sewage into pure drinking water. Now it's asking the state for permission to give its recycled water to a group of home brewers.
NPR

White House Won't Seek To End 529 College Tax Break

All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans. Critics had called the proposal to limit them a tax hike on the middle class.
NPR

Yahoo Plans To Spin Off Remaining Stake In Alibaba

Yahoo has announced it will spin off its 15 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Shareholders had been waiting for that decision. The move needs regulatory approval.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.