Goofy signs declaring "No Humans Allowed." An eye-catching purple ceiling. Posters of The Wizard of Oz-era Judy Garland.
There's a lot to look at inside TLA Video in Bryn Mawr, but in the end most visitors are there for one thing: movies. There are aisles and aisles of them, and a staff of self-proclaimed film nerds to guide the way.
But the Lancaster Avenue store now finds itself the last of seven TLAs, and its future is uncertain beyond the expiration of its lease, in October 2012. For now, though, it remains a Main Line fixture, a gathering spot, a place to browse through movies, posters and video games.
Assistant manager Miguel Gomez said he doesn’t like the idea of shutting the store because its closure would push people away from the downtown.
“Stores really provide service for the community, people like to browse and talk to other people,” he said. Personally, he said, he would miss sharing his knowledge with customers.
The TLA chain dates to the mid-1980s, and operated a beloved Center City store that closed over the summer. The first Bryn Mawr location opened in October 1991, where a Bertucci’s now stands. Seven years later, it moved a few doors down to its current location, which boasts 20,000 titles covering a wide range of genres.
TLA also has an Internet operation, and such services have driven the industry shift away from bricks-and-mortar stores.
Gomez, for one, doesn't like the change to downloads and instant streaming. He said they "make movies seem more disposable.”
Bryce Warman, 24, a graduate student at Saint Joseph’s University, has been working at TLA Video for three years.
“I loved browsing video stores as a kid,” he said. Warman says that closing video shops kills a a social aspect of people's lives. “It’s not the same effect looking at a thumbnail.”
Steve Spurgeon, 40, a regular at TLA Video, is sad to think that its doors might close. He said it's "such a drag to see specialty stores going away.”
Another customer, Laurie Bludman, 22, who recently graduated from Penn State University, said she doesn’t know what she would do if the store closed down.
“I love TLA Video, everyone here is really nice,” she said.
However, 48-year-old William Hill said he believes it will be easy to go online if picking up movies the old-fashioned way is no longer available.
“It would be an easy transition,” he said.
Owner Ray Murray has a year to decide whether Hill will have to make that transition. In a recent interview about the store's future, he said: "We're going to wait and see."
"We're taking it month to month," he said.