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Santa Barbara Still Rents

Physical Media Continues to Appeal


The Video Shop at 128 West Mission Street has stood its ground in Santa Barbara for 32 years despite technology’s niftiest efforts to put movie rentals in history textbooks.

Mike Hansen opened The Video Shop in 1979. “Nonphysical distribution seems to have the most momentum,” he said, of home entertainment. As newspaper ink-stained hand is to a cursor over a Web headline, a shelf of alphabetized titles is to a page displaying thumbnail images. Some prefer the touch and feel, others the quickness and the *click.*

The experience is subjective, and The Video Shop “will survive strictly on the attitude and desire of the local market,” Hansen said. The Video Shop carries about 14,000 titles, from new releases to classics, and everything else in between. “It’s basically a video library,” he says. The “library” is organized by a film’s genre, director, and even actors.

About 90 percent of those titles, Hansen estimates, are in DVD format. He follows the trends in home entertainment to keep the shop viable and in style, making switches over the years from Betamax and VHS to DVD and Blu-Ray. When Hansen first opened shop, back when Betamax was the happening thing, The Video Shop was the only video retailer in town.

Along came other local stores like Captain Video and Video Schmideo—charging, Hansen points out, $5 a day back in the ‘80s, when five bucks could get you about five gallons of gas. Then and now, customers count on The Video Shop for $3 new release rentals, or $2 for older movies.

Hansen said he tends to stock The Video Shop with box office movies and informational documentaries based on their online ratings. He keeps a wide range of classics in the store, which really sets him apart from big rentals like BlockBuster.

Most of the employees at The Video Shop are movie buffs who used to rent from Hansen. They, like Hansen, welcome all of those film fanatics in town who enjoy pulling DVD cases off a shelf.

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