Popular Berkeley Video Store Loses the Good Fight

A popular video rental store in Berkeley closed its doors for good  this week after fighting to stay in business when its parent company filed  for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Reel Video, located at 2655 Shattuck Ave., shut down for good on  Monday. In the past couple of months, store officials had reached out to the  community to try to raise thousands of dollars to stay afloat.

Jenny Woosley, an employee at the store, said three auditors for  prospective investors came to the store Monday, and after looking at the  inventory of more than 80,000 movies - many of which are rare or decades old  - they suddenly announced that the store was closing.

The closing of the store had been looming after its parent  company, Movie Gallery, Inc., which operates the Hollywood Video chain of  stores, filed for bankruptcy in February.

The company purchased Reel Video more than a decade ago, but the  store had sought to maintain an independent feel by focusing on older,  hard-to-find movies rather than new releases. That approach attracted many  movie lovers, as well as film students at the nearby University of California  at Berkeley.

Woosley said the closing "was kind of a shock to everyone. We had  no idea it was going to happen that fast."

Store officials were trying to raise at least $200,000 to buy the  business back from its parent company before it was liquidated and closed. At  least $50,000 had been pledged to the effort, but it ultimately could not be  saved.

"We had been working so hard...getting investors, getting  donations, then to just find out that we had closed, and not even getting a  call from corporate headquarters, it was a blow," Woosley said.

She said most of the store's inventory has already been taken  away.

"It's pretty much just a shell," she said. "We're still all really  bummed out about it."

Woosley said the store's workforce of more than a dozen people are  now looking for other jobs.

"It sucks we lost our jobs, it's not cool, but I feel the real  detriment is to the community to lose that many movies, including some most  likely that they'll never find again," she said.

Woosley said the investors plan to use the inventory of videos to  open a new store elsewhere, but she did not know where or when that would  happen.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us