R.I.P.? Photo by Alex Macon.

Movies

Premiere Video Appears to Be Closed

One of Dallas' last video rental stores is going on "hiatus," rarely a good thing, especially in the video rental business in 2017. But is this the end?

Video rental stores have long been more endangered than the giant panda, but Premiere Video persisted, outliving Blockbuster and defying convention as a hard-copy outlet in a streaming world.

However, Premiere’s 30-year run on Mockingbird Lane looks to have come to an end. On Tuesday evening, the doors were locked, and a handwritten sign taped to the storefront window announced a “gone fishing” hiatus. Earlier, a longtime employee had eulogized the store in a Facebook post. I’ve left several phone and email messages with Premiere, but haven’t heard back. I’ll update this post if I do. (Update below.)

A hiatus isn’t necessarily the end, and there may be cause to hope Premiere eventually goes on a reunion tour relocates, as someone outside the store Tuesday suggested. (The email address listed on the handwritten sign also dramatically hints at a “reincarnation.”) Regardless, it’s the death of an era. Premiere was one of the last—if not the last—video rental stores in Dallas. Its massive selection, likely broader and deeper than Netflix and Hulu combined, was always a treasure trove for North Texas cinephiles. It’ll be sad to say “fin.”

If you still have a movie checked out, the storefront return slot is open.

Update: Owner Sam Wade emailed back and thanked customers for their interest: “We are touched by the groundswell of support from our members and have been diligently trying to respond to the calls and visits.”

Speaking on the phone, Heather Hankamer, a former Premiere Video employee who worked at the store for 22 years and is now helping Wade respond to those calls and visits from distraught film fans, confirmed that the space on Mockingbird is closing. Even with the strong sense of community formed by the store’s regulars and one of the most impressive film libraries in the state, Premiere has not been immune to the forces that killed off every other video rental store in town, she says. Staying open in such a large space proved unsustainable, but Wade isn’t ready to give up on Premiere. Wade couldn’t bear to part with any of the collection, which includes many rare titles and other gems, and Premiere Video will avoid the indignity of a going out of business sale, Hankamer says.

“He has said several times he wants to keep going and he wants the collection to remain,” Hankamer says.

Wade and others are packing up the enormous library of films and plan on putting it in storage until they figure out their next move. A number of ideas have been batted around, including reopening the shop in a smaller space, or perhaps partnering with a film school, university, or library that could host the collection. Hankamer says they are also open to suggestions.

“We’re asking, ‘What does this film library mean to the city of Dallas?'” she says.

Whatever it means, it certainly shouldn’t be left in storage. Wade doesn’t seem to think it’s over, and hopefully it isn’t. Premiere Video is not its space on Mockingbird. It’s the tens of thousands of films it contained, and more than that, it’s the Dallas film-lovers who worked at and rented from the store, who found each other and found the movies that make life make sense. You won’t get that from a Netflix stream.

A photo of the sign taped to the window at the Mockingbird storefront is below. Premiere members and anyone with an interest in the future of Premiere Video can reach out to that email address.

Photo by Alex Macon
Photo by Alex Macon

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