Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Check out a short documentary about 20th Century Flicks, one of the world's oldest video rental stores

Illustration for article titled Check out a short documentary about 20th Century Flicks, one of the worlds oldest video rental stores
Screenshot: Arthur Cauty (YouTube)

While most every Blockbuster has been shuttered, a handful of video rental stores still manage to survive. Most of these are, by necessity, pretty small or wedged into the corners of more stable businesses like convenience stores. But, in Bristol, UK, 20th Century Flicks has managed to keep going for almost 40 years, and still offers customers a selection of 20,000 movies.

The shop is the subject of The Last Video Store, a short documentary from Arthur Cauty, released yesterday. It follows Flicks founding in 1982, several moves to different locations throughout Bristol, and describes the enormous collection of films it’s acquired over decades of business.

Co-owner David Taylor attributes the store’s survival to its “very strange, idiosyncratic collection of trash to extreme highbrow movies.” This is certainly true, considering it hosts, as Taylor says, “the biggest collection [of movies] in the UK by quite a long way. ”(Taylor estimates it dwarfs Netflix’s selection by roughly five times.)


Taylor calls the shop, which also houses two screening rooms, “the longest running ... in the world,” though, in a post about the documentary on Boing Boing, a few commenters have disputed this claim, citing still-running American rental shops established in 1984 (Austin’s I Luv Video), 1983 (Tucson’s Casa Video), and 1977 (Little Rock’s RAO Video).

Still, even if it isn’t actually the oldest in the world, 20th Century Flicks definitely belongs to a dying breed. It isn’t exactly a booming business, though. “One year, when all was said and done,” Taylor says. “We’d made £24.” Despite this, he’s happy to be able to employ the four staff members Flicks currently has and offer customers the ability to get recommendations and interact with people rather than a streaming service menu.

Considering that some people are willing to go so far as to build their own personal video stores in their basements, 20th Century Flicks seems to be filling an important need. Watch the entire documentary for more.

[via Boing Boing]


Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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