Come February, Lost Weekend Video will depart its storefront on Valencia Street, where it has rented out films for some 18 years, and will move to the New Mission Theater. The video store will become part of a partnership with the Alamo Drafthouse to preserve two collections of hard-to-find films — both Lost Weekend’s collection and the Le Video Archive.
The store will take all or most of its 27,000-film collection to the recently renovated New Mission Theater and erect a kiosk in the main lobby, where film buffs can browse and rent films of varying degrees of rareness and obscurity, as before.
“I think having that setup in the lobby will help the moviegoing experience,” said Liz Duran, the Alamo’s private events and community director. “The audience is going to get a lot more out of going to an Alamo movie by having the video store within our walls.”
Inside the Valencia location hang accolades from local newspapers and magazines, accumulated over many years, including its most recent award for “Best ‘This Is Still A Thing,’” which inspires a little bit of chagrin in co-owner Dave Hawkins. But Lost Weekend is as much community space as it is a video archive. On a recent Friday, as Hawkins was on his way for coffee, a customer recognized him on the sidewalk and handed him a video return, which he tucked into his pocket. Several others stopped by to ask about the Le Video collection or simply to lament the passing of David Bowie. Downstairs, the CineCave has won the hearts of local comedy lovers and comedians alike.
Hawkins said the comedy shows will wind down for now, but may be revived. Duran said she is making plans with local comic and columnist Nato Green, a host and producer of Lost Weekend’s weekly comedy showcase Cynic Cave.
“We hope to keep its spirit alive,” said Hawkins.
Exact details, like the layout and design of the Lost Weekend kiosk, hours of operation, and staff sharing are still to be determined, but the new rental is expected to be in place sometime in February.
The collaboration comes after the Alamo Drafthouse purchased the entire inventory of Le Video, another popular rental shop in the Inner Sunset that shuttered in December. Lost Weekend may have an active role in handling and making available the Le Video archive, though specific details have yet to be ironed out as well, pending decisions about whether or not to split up the video collection or leave it intact. Lost Weekend’s new location inside the Alamo will, however, use Le Video’s shelving units, physically blending the three film institutions.
In March of last year, Lost Weekend teamed up with 1234Go! records, based in Oakland, to divide but preserve their Valencia store, and even expand to the East Bay. With Lost Weekend’s exit, the record shop will move into the space soon to be vacated by clothing designer and retailer DEMA, which will close in February.
Andrew Kerwin, a store manager at the Valencia branch of 1234Go!, said the record shop has started buying used vinyl and will expand that practice at the new location, and also hopes to add a listening station. Still, the record selection will be carefully quality-controlled.
“I’m hoping to just curate it even tighter, keep it all killer, no filler,” Kerwin said.
While the record business has been enjoying vinyl’s return to trendiness, video streaming has made business tough for film rental stores. Hawkins said he saw more people come through the doors on the first day the shop opened, completely without fanfare, than he sees on any given day now.
“The new people moving in tend to know how to find things for cheap or for free online,” he said. “Also, many younger people have already begun to come of age without having the experience of having a local video store, thus it may not even occur to them to search for one.”
But that doesn’t stop Lost Weekend or the Alamo from seeing the value of film rental, and wanting to preserve it.
“Every time there’s a shift in format viewing like, let’s say, VHS to DVD to Blu-ray to streaming, only a really small percentage of movies make that leap every time,” said the Alamo’s Mike Keegan. “When people are at home just streaming stuff, there’s the ease of selection but the breadth of history isn’t there. So I see video rental stores as sort of public archives.”