MS. REBECCA SHEIR
We turn now from live entertainment to entertainment of the small screen variety. In this age of on demand movies, streaming services and Netflix, you tend to see fewer and fewer video stores. But, here in D.C., one video store held on longer than most. I say held on, past tense, because after 33 years of business, Potomac Video is finally shutting its doors. And as special correspondent, Kavitha Cardoza tells us, customers say they'll miss more than just the movies.
MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA
Tad Tharpe is gingerly balancing dozens of DVD and VHS tapes as he gets to the register at Northwest D.C.'s Potomac Video.
MR. TAD THARPE
I'm buying them all. Greatest classics. You can't even get these anymore on any website. These are mostly out of print and they're great.
Potomac Video has been a neighborhood institution in D.C.'s Chevy Chase Circle for more than 30 years. But now the store is closing down and everything is for sale. Tharpe says it's a huge loss.
One of the greatest things about growing up was always going to the video store with your parents to pick out a movie. It was part of the American experience. Now, younger people won't be able to do that.
MR. JOHN FRANCKE
There's a stage play version of that.
Oh, I know.
And we had three until about two days ago. And I think they all got scooped up.
I'm sure they have.
John Francke bought movies for all these stores, at one point spending more than a million dollars a year.
At our peak, we had 22 stores in three different states and the District.
This store carried approximately 60,000 titles and was considered a treasure, because you could find everything from the latest blockbuster to obscure documentaries to niche foreign films.
All our foreign titles are divided up by country or language. If someone was really into Israeli film, they could go there and just work their way through, you know, 300 Israeli films. One of our last sections we added was called "Great Plays." And it was all the filmed adaptations of Ibsen and, well, we actually -- we already had a Shakespeare section. But all the great plays that you can think of, and it was a -- sometimes, we'd have four or five different versions of the same play. And that was a very popular section.
Bill Flanders is next in line. He says he's been coming here for what seems a lifetime, and has rented lots of movies.
MR. BILL FLANDERS
Hundreds. Seriously, hundreds. There aren't many places like this. In fact, there's none left in the District. So, it means that I won't be able to come up and look for something for my wife and myself some night. I've lost something.
That sense of loss is seemingly universal here. Carrie Armstrong, another customer, says she's sad the video store is going out of business, because it's such an important part of the neighborhood.
MS. CARRIE ARMSTRONG
Everyone's shut in their house looking at a computer. It's nice to be able to go to a store where you can put your hands on something and talk to people and get advice. It's sort of social.
Eleanor Bedford and her son Ben are regulars.
MS. ELEANOR BEDFORD
We have our pizza movie night every Friday.
They have to find a new ritual now. Ben chooses among Scooby Doo titles stacked higher than him.
MR. BEN BEDFORD
I got a -- it was one of the original Scooby Doo capers.
My son stared hyper ventilating when he heard the news that his favorite video store was going out of business.
John Francke looks stoic as he rings up Eleanor Bedford and other customers and sees all the movies he's bought over the years leave the store forever. He says it's hard to let go of films he may never see again.
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. "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis." Extremely rare DVD.
But Francke 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. I'm Kavitha Cardoza.
Want one last glance at Potomac Video? We have a gallery of photos on our website, metroconnection.org. And tell us, do you have special memories of Potomac Video, or any other neighborhood video store? Send an email to email@example.com. And special thanks to Andrew Katz-Moses who contributed to this report.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and International law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.