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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Le Video Strikes Back: A Sequel for the Awesome Video Store

Posted By on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM


Things are looking up for Le Video. The store, which carries an estimated 80-100,000 titles and was expected to close by the end of April, is now planning to stay open. This is thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign, a recent uptick in customer support, and the addition of Green Apple Books as a tenant.

Le Video owner and founder Catherine Tchen recently explained her plan to SF Weekly. While the store is going stay open, it won't look exactly the same.

Green Apple Books will take over the bottom floor of the building, and Le Video will move into the mezzanine upstairs. All of the films will be added to an online database that customers can search from home or at a kiosk in the store, and then pick up their movie at the counter. The upstairs area will have a smaller browsing selection than the current store, but the entire collection will still be available. Tchen promises to keep as many movies on display as possible, and is much more upbeat about Le Video's future than she was in March.

"The mezzanine space will be awesome," Tchen says. "We'll still be able to display way more movies than the average video store; at least 25,000."

In this new phase, Tchen wants Le Video to become something of a community center for film enthusiasts. She plans to hosts lectures, movie nights, and film discussions, and set out tables and chairs for customers to sit and discuss movies.

"The space will be more intimate with the goal of being a more social space where people can meet and chat," she says.


Green Apple Books co-owner Pete Mulvihill confirmed the bookstore would move in, and said he was excited to return to the Inner Sunset.

"Green Apple had a bookstore about a block away on 9th Avenue for years, so it feels a bit like a return home," he says.

The two businesses are not merging. Each will operate independently from the same building. Tchen and Mulvihill both said they see it as a natural partnership, because the type of people who prefer rare movies and DVDs are often interested in books as well. Mulvihill says the move into Le Video was not motivated by a financial need on the part of Green Apple, but seen as a chance to expand. The location on Clement Street won't be affected.

"We wouldn't be opening another store if we weren't doing well," he says.

The transition is expected to take a few months. All of the films have to be packed up and rearranged upstairs, and then Green Apple will finalize their own floor plan. Tchen says she hopes to remain open as much as possible during the move ("a logistical nightmare," she says), but that the store will have to close for at least a few days when the excess shelves are dismantled.

Tchen also says that while the initial Indiegogo campaign was successful, Le Video still needs dollars and support, especially for the things that customers have asked for the most: As many DVD covers as possible on display, and more protective packs for transporting them in and out of the store. So don't stop donating, or renting.

Le Video and Green Apple Books are expected to be fully operational in the same Irving Street location by the end of the summer.

Tchen says she "can't decide if we should rename the store Le Video's Archives or Le Video 2.0."


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Devin Holt


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