Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kim's Video

Kim's Video was the most amazing video store ever. When I was at NYU, it was the only place you wanted to go to rent movies because they had the sickest collection.

And then, videotape died.
Over the years, Mr. Kim, now in his late 40s, built a staff that traveled the world scouring for additional titles — the only way to find obscure films in the pre-Internet age. By 2008, the collection had swelled to 55,000 eclectic works, many impossible to find anywhere else.

Then the world changed.

The Internet had spawned Netflix, the elimination of late fees and no-effort rentals. The Internet also distracted consumers, stealing hours they might once have spent reveling in movies...

At the store’s peak in the 1990s, more than 200,000 people were listed in Kim’s database, but by the end of last year, only about 1,500 of them were considered active members...

“Kim’s was the cutting-edge; that was always the business concept,” Mr. Kim said the other day in one of a series of conversations about the fate of his video collection. “But ironically, I didn’t prepare.”

Last September, in a move that swept through the Internet at viral speed, he issued a public challenge. In a notice pasted on a wall inside the front door, he wrote, “We hope to find a sponsor who can make this collection available to those who have loved Kim’s over the past two decades.” He promised to donate all the films without charge to anyone who would meet three conditions: Keep the collection intact, continue to update it and make it accessible to Kim’s members and others...
Time to renew your passports.