This past weekend, I had the pleasure of doing some travel around the country for work. Whenever I get the opportunity, I love to dig around in new locales and find their local used DVD shops, and see what specific cities have to offer. In fact, I have done enough of this recently that the activity inspired this specific section of the blog. I started the “Bargain Bin(ge)” feature in order to spotlight local physical DVD shops and the hauls I pick up from them, particularly in the aftermath of the fall of BlockBuster Video.
One of the areas that I hit on this most recent trip was Washington, D.C.: the U.S. Capital, and one of the major metropolitan areas in the states.
Given the size and population of the DC Metro area, I expected to find a wealth of used DVD and physical media stores. Unfortunately, this was not at all the case. While my initial Google-ing yielded a number of results, it didn’t take long for me to find that almost all of them had closed. In particular, I found out that the DC area was once home to an expansive local video rental chain called “Potomac Video”, which only shut its doors in May of this year.
That really is a shame, because it looked like quite a fantastic place from all of the pictures that I have seen.
I am curious as to what became of the extensive stock of these Potomac Video stores, as it doesn’t seem that any heirs have popped up in the area. I have noticed that a number of thrift stores bought out the stocks of local BlockBusters as they fell, and I can’t help but wonder if that may have been the same case here. In any case, I didn’t find any promising DVD shops in the DC Metro area, which I was really disappointed by.
On a whim, I decided to check out a record shop in Arlington, VA on my way out of town. I have noticed that record shops will sometimes carry a decent stock of DVDs, but it is never really a sure thing. Luckily, in this case, CD Cellar had a small, eclectic collection of cult movies and rare finds.
One of the coolest finds here was a copy of Larry Cohen’s early mob feature “Black Caesar”, starring Fred Williamson. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. I think it far surpasses “Scarface” (1983) on just about every level while dealing with similar themes, and it predates that film by a whole decade. It might be my favorite movie to chronicle the rise and fall of a gangster, and that is saying something for this low-budget feature. It is worth noting that this was the first time, outside of Atlanta’s rental location “Videodrome”, that I have found a physical copy of this movie.
Apart from “Black Caesar”, there were some great cult deep cuts like “Head of the Family”, “The Ice Cream Man”, and “The Mangler” that don’t make your typical DVD store catalog. That said, the prices were far from stellar, but I wasn’t particularly surprised by that. I still walked out with a few DVDs, even though none of them were what I consider “bargains” (most DVDs were 6 dollars and up, a handful got down to 4). Regardless, I was happy to not leave the DC area completely empty-handed.
I am hoping that perhaps MovieStop or another chain will make its way to the area before long to pick up the slack in the wake of Potomac Video, or maybe someone else will get something started locally. I’m sure that DC could use a reasonably priced movie shop, or even a eclectic video rental shop along the lines of Atlanta’s Videodrome or Seattle’s Scarecrow Video. As for right now though, the area is regrettably a desert for people looking for bargain DVD shops.