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The D.C. area’s best video store, Video Americain in Takoma Park, is closing after 18 years.
“It’s been a long time,” says founding owner Barry Solan. “We’ve really loved it, but the numbers, technology, the common story…” He trails off, but it’s clear what he means: Video stores in D.C. haven’t done well for more than a decade now. At its peak, Video Americain had six shops all over the D.C. and Baltimore area. Now, it’s down to two—-the Takoma Park shop and the one on Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore. He says he’ll probably close or relocate the Baltimore store by next summer. “I haven’t decided yet,” he says.
After hearing the news, people have come to the store in tears, Solan says. Video Americain has represented something pretty special for its customers: When its Charles Village store closed in March, the shop’s fans held a candlelight vigil.
Solan has already begun selling off his stock, but he’s got a lot more to unload: around 30,000 titles. That’s just an estimate. “We have a very powerful DOS-based computer system, and somehow it’s not able to extricate every bit of info that we would like,” he says, so there’s a margin of error of about 3,000. But it all needs to go. “My storage locker is filled,” he says, “so whatever we don’t sell goes into my … living room.”
The shop will close its doors by the end of January or early February. But don’t come in looking for bargain-basement prices just yet. “This is like selling a film museum,” Solan says. “This isn’t a flea market.”