Despite the advent of streaming services putting most movie rental places out of business, independent video store Best Video in Hamden, Connecticut, has been able to stay afloat by turning into a non-profit center that hosts screenings, concerts, guest speakers, and other events.
Best Video is a haven for any film lover. The store was opened in 1985 by Hank Paper, who wanted to turn his vast knowledge of film into a business. When Best Video first opened, there were just 500 films in their collection. ”My idea then was to choose movies I really liked,” Paper told the New York Times in 2001. ”In lieu of quantity, I would have a very select group of videos.”
Today, Best Video has around 30,000 films in its archive, and a staff that is extremely knowledgeable about those movies. They’re are organized on shelves including, but not limited to, country, genre, director, and subject. The store’s library includes classic, foreign, independent, cult, contemporary, and children’s films. Best Video’s DVD, VHS, and Blu-Ray archives have been hailed as an essential “cultural jewel” for preserving cinema. Movie posters and paraphernalia can be found all around the store.
Best Video also has a café that serves coffee and other refreshments. The perpetual smell of coffee adds to the cozy, friendly, and welcoming atmosphere of one of Hamden’s most beloved contemporary cultural centers and community spaces.
Coincidentally, this video store is right next to a travel agency, Adler Travel, another business that was thought to be put out by the emergence of Internet services.
Know Before You Go
The store is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Check the website for information on screenings and other events.