A few weeks ago my boyfriend, David, and I fatefully stumbled upon a video store in La Canada, of all places, that ended up being everything a video hound like myself dreams of. The place, run by a grim faced man named Hamlet, has been open since 1981, and they have never sold any of their VHS. That’s right – an untapped supply. When I asked him if he had any videos for sale, he pointed me in the direction of the next room, where shelves upon shelves of VHS waited for me. And I’m talking video hound gold here – A vast foreign section, including Jodorowsky and Wenders! Pretty much every Disney film, live action and animated. Scores of classics, and cult hits, too!! Scoring Wonderwall and Jabberwocky both in one trip caused me to do my happy dance all over the store.
Hamlet seemed bemused, but baffled as to why anyone would be excited about old videos. Marco, the 20 year old hottie who also works there, asked first if I was serious, then quickly become excited himself. “Finally! Someone understands how cool VHS is!” This kid is going to grow up to be rad. He checked up on every video I bought to see when it was last rented, and the winner was one that had sat on their shelf since 1997. The year I graduated high school. I am content in the knowledge that it will now sit on my shelf, where it will be looked at and coddled daily.
After I filled a box with around 75 videos inside (only $2 a piece!) Hamlet casually mentioned that if I wanted to come back and look at the shelves of VHS he had in the back, I could. I immediately yelled “Hell Yes!” and made an appointment that very moment to come back. David just smiled placidly and shook his head slightly – he loves me dearly, but this whole video cassette thing is beyond his comprehension.
The next week I was there at 11am on the dot, with my fellow video junkie Mike in tow. Hamlet stepped back and allowed us to ransack his back shelves – full to the brim with pristine videos, untouched and unloved for years. Again, I was a squealing, happy dancing bunny. Hamlet and his lovely wife, Myra, just looked on with amused, but puzzled looks on their faces. “Oh my god, Julia, Oh my god!” Mike kept intoning – I had told him what a gold mine the store was, but this was light years from what Mike expected. He and I both picked up about 75 videos that day.
While he was ringing us up, again Hamlet dropped a bomb on us. Gap Band style. He mentioned casually that there was a back room to the back room, and that if we wanted to come back next week, he would clean it out so we could access the treasure trove of videos that lurked there. Good god, man! Hamlet was my new messiah.
So last week Mike and I again ventured to the glorious land they call La Canada, and we ravaged the last bit of the store still left untouched. While sifting through, I stopped to reflect a moment on how happy I was. I guess my idea of heaven is a room full of dusty clamshell videos of obscure 70’s puppet shows just waiting to be unearthed. Who needs pearly gates?!
With the sad recent closing of Rocket Video, we all know that video stores are on their last legs. This is why I am sharing this coveted information with all of you. Maybe by heading down to La Canada Video and buying their unloved VHS, we can postpone the inevitable. Hamlet and his staff are nice, honest folk and if I can buoy up their money intake at least a small amount, I feel like I have done a good deed. So, to all my fellow videos hounds, I say GO FORTH! Buy many VHS and make Hamlet and I happy bunnies.