For 25 years, David Fellner got the movies to the people, and the people gave them back in a timely fashion—rewound if they were good. Now, though, his Mt. Airy Video Library is closing its doors as the death of the video rental industry closes its grip on Philadelphia.
Fellner told Newsworks he decided to shut down back in October, only remaining open now to sell his leftover stock. Fellner says his store has “never been profitable really” and that he kept it open as a “kind of community service thing.” He took the business over about a decade ago, ushering in 50 or 60 renters every “good” Saturday night.
Video Library’s closing, of course, is a symptom of the rise of content stream that we’ve seen develop nationally. Alternative rental models like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and the like have virtually gutted the profit margins of the once-booming video rental industry. The real-life consequences side of that equation, naturally, is the closing of local staples like this one.
The question, though, is whether or not we should miss them. As evolution goes, an organism tends to either adapt or die, and that rule is equally true for the hyper-Darwinistic free market. Video stores, in that sense, are a relic of the past, replaced instead by full-digital channels with larger selections and infinitely more convenience.
Still, that doesn’t make the loss of an entire segment of the local economy go down any easier. With the loss of Video Library, Philly is down essentially to Spruce Street Video in its video rental arsenal, which specializes in fringe pornography.
But, then, it is comforting to know that at least one form of film will always have a rental base. The internet can’t kill everything, after all.