With the world’s Blockbusters all but shuttered, future generations of movie buffs will never know the joy of snatching the last VHS tape from a towering wall of new releases, let alone the shivering euphoria of peeking through your fingers at old, weathered copies of Ghoulies and Hellraiser. But the loss of video rental stores is about more than mere nostalgia; for many, renting a movie meant taking a chance on something new—a new genre, a foreign filmmaker, a forgotten gem. That spirit is what’s kept independent stores alive as Blockbuster withered, but, as the man once said, the rent is just too damn high. The kinds of overstuffed, meticulously curated rental stores—the kinds where many an A.V. Club writer spent their youth—are also in danger.
Austin’s Vulcan Video, a local staple since the ‘80s, is feeling the pressure of the city no longer being the “small, inexpensive, artist friendly metropolis that Richard Linklater so wonderfully captured in his first masterpiece, Slacker.” As such, its launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the staff “get through the next 15 months that are left on the lease” of its current location, the landlords of which just fired off another rent increase. As of this writing, the campaign has raised just over $4,700 in 18 hours, meaning Vulcan still has a ways to go to achieve its $35,000 goal. Per the GoFundMe, that money will go towards “rent, gas, electric, phones, internet, restocking (both Old and New Releases), and helping get our small, dedicated staff paid.” Once its lease is up, the goal is to “regroup and see where Vulcan heads from there.”
The GoFundMe also serves to preserve both the store’s business model—“we’re not going to start charging [customers] an arm and leg because those in charge of the real estate seem intent on cutting our limbs off”—and its staff. “This isn’t anybody’s career, it’s their passion,” reads the campaign, “and we want to keep sharing that passion with an entirely new generation of folks who can’t find Jesus Franco, Ernst Lubitsch, or Elaine May’s filmography on Netflix (or any other darn streaming service, for that matter).”
Check out the campaign and donate whatever you can here.