Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reel Gone: Berkeley's Reel Video to Close

Posted By on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge Reel Video, where you could obtain this movie or 99,999 others, is kaput
  • Reel Video, where you could obtain this movie or 99,999 others, is kaput
Reel Video, the beloved, warehouse-sized Berkeley store where customers could always count on great popcorn -- and terrible movies being played by the staff -- is on its last reel.

Employees at the 13-year-old store were recently told the store is closing and will be gone in a matter of weeks or months, SF Weekly has learned. While Reel looks for all the world like an esoteric, independent store of the sort Bay Area customers love to patronize -- and feel good about patronizing -- it was actually bought by Hollywood Video in 1998. "They let us do whatever we wanted. We were kind of forgotten about," said longtime clerk Andrew Purcell.

Hollywood isn't forgetting about Reel now, though. The chain filed for bankruptcy protection in February and is going under. All of its stores -- including 16 in Northern California -- are following suit. Purcell notes that Reel was actually around $80,000 in the black last year -- the only Hollywood store in the district to make money -- but is closing nonetheless.

View Larger Map

It appears Reel's vast collection of more than 100,000 individual titles will be cast to the wind. There was some talk of a rival chain buying up the Berkeley store -- but now it appears more likely the competitor will simply buy up swaths of Reel's video cassettes and DVDs.

Purcell, meanwhile, was consoling himself when SF Weekly called by playing episodes of the original Star Trek for the store's a.m. customers. He confirmed our suspicions about the films the staff broadcasts on the in-store monitors by noting  "I like to put on the worst

movie I can find. And we have a competition of who can find the worst

movie to watch."

We never thought we'd miss waiting in line with our chosen rentals and watching clips of epic stinkers like Beastmaster or Danger: Diabolik (a ridiculous Italian caper in which diamonds are at one point fired from a gun as a deadly weapon). We do already.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"