Broadway Video is one of several remaining video-rental stores in Long Beach, and is home to a collection of 24,000 rentable materials.
By Jesus Ambrosio | Feb. 24, 2016
A couple walks into Broadway Video at the corner of Redondo Avenue. and Broadway Avenue. Soon they begin to browse the vast collection of films the video store holds.
The man is tall, sporting a greying beard and is wearing glasses and a tan hat. , “What do you think ‘Fantastic Four’ ”? to his partner, Linda Nelson.
He approaches the counter and tells owner Carl Detweiler that he is going to place a pile of films he intends to rent for the next three days right next to the register.
Soon after, a woman walks in and asks if “Black Mass” is available to rent – one of the newest available titles at the store this week. Detweiler leaves the register to try to help her find the film in the new releases section of the store, but has no luck. Fortunately he finds a copy of the film behind the counter that someone has just returned.
About 25 minutes have passed. The bearded man and partner Linda are still searching for movies to watch. By now he has piled a tower of 12 movies next to the register, yet he continues to search for more.
“They have a great selection, I think the only new movie we have seen in theaters was Star Wars over Christmas,” Nelson said. “Before then we haven’t been to a movies in so long I can’t even remember when was the last time we went.”
Nelson used to go to a different video store in downtown, but started coming down to Broadway Video consistently about six years ago because, truth be told, there aren’t many places like this left.
Video stores in Long Beach might be somewhat of the exception in a time when Blockbuster has closes hundreds of its stores nationwide and Netflix and Hulu streaming services reign supreme.
It’s not just Broadway Video that has continued on in this digital age, but Starr Video in Bixby Knolls still has customers shuffling DVD cases from the shelves and both Hawaii Video and TDA Video on Anaheim Street carry a selection of Vietnamese DVDs for rent.
Nelson showed off her collection of movies she and her partner have decided to rent for the next three days. The movies include “Transformers,” “The Hobbit,” “Pompeii,” “The Signal” and “Stranded.”
Halfway through the list, another customer with two DVDs in hand exiting Broadway Video exclaimed, “When are you going to watch all of those!”
The list goes on “The Wall Street,” “Freaks,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Closer Encounters of the Third Kind” to name a few more films on her haul.
By now another couple has walked in. This time it’s Jason Burns and Michelle McGovern who said they live down the street. They return “Savages,” “Safe House” and “Sicario” into the return drop box.
Immediately Burns walks up to the counter and asks Detweiler if “Black Mass” is available to rent. Detweiler looks concerned because he thinks he has just checked out the last copy just a few minutes before.
Burns said jokingly, “But I called to make a reservation!” and to his credit he had, but he doesn’t seemed too bothered that “Black Mass” is no longer available. Instead, Burns asks Detweiler to help him find some other movies on his watch list.
“Where can I find ‘The Last Witch Hunter’?” Burns shouted from the aisles while Detweiler typed the name of the film into his database and shouted back in what section the film could be found. This goes on for several minutes; Burns shouts and Detweiler taps away at his computer. In the end the couple has picked out four movies.
Detweiler searches one last time for “Black Mass” and alas he finds one copy behind the counter. Burns literally jumps with joy and fist bumps me.
“I come here pretty much every other day of the week,” Burns said. “There has been a lot of movies we haven’t been able to see because we have been so busy in the past, and we are now able to see them because this place is in our backyard.”
Burns and McGovern have tried the streaming things in the past, but have never been satisfied.
“I don’t stream or download movies because it’s too expensive,” McGovern said. “It tends to use up your data and for me it just ends up being more expensive than going out to the theaters.”
And these aren’t the only things McGovern enjoys about renting from Broadway Video.
“It also doesn’t take as long for the movies that were in theaters to be out on the shelves here as much as it did before,” McGovern said.
Warner Bros., Universal Studios and Fox have restrictions on how long it takes until a new film can be released onto Redbox rental services. The agreement with Redbox and these studios means that a movie can be found 28 days after their initial home-video releases, no such restrictions prohibit local independent video stores like Broadway Video from stocking up with brand new releases.
The same can be said about films and television shows on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon as it’s not always easy for movie buffs or tv nerds to be caught up with the latest films or shows unless they see them in theaters or buy the DVDs.
Broadway Video has approximately 24,000 DVDs and Blu-rays to credit to the stores collection with multiple copies of various films and television shows
“Before ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ came out in theaters all of our copies of the previous Star Wars were checked out constantly,” Detweiler said. “People really wanted to get a hold of them to catch up before the new one came out.”
Good luck trying to find that in a Redbox or on Netflix – your best bet is to buy the physical copy or purchase a digital version from iTunes for a hefty $19.99 each.
A membership is required to rent films from Broadway Video, but there is no fee for membership. On Tuesdays and Thursdays films that aren’t new releases are $2 for three days. The regular price for a movie is $3.25 for a three-day rental. There is a lot to chose from the classics like Star Wars to close to 500 independent gay and lesbian films, the growing collection of children’s films and yes, the not so kid friendly adults-only section in the back of the store.
“We get a lot of walk-ins from the neighborhood,” Detweiler said. “But we also have customers that come in from north Long Beach, Seal Beach and Lakewood because they don’t have anything like this close to home.”
The establishment has been around for 31 years according to Detweiler, and he has been the owner for the past eight years. He used to work with financial home loans, but in 2007 the previous owner was going to sell it and instead of having his favorite video store go away he decided to buy it.
“I wanted to keep renting them,” Detweiler said. “And now they are all mine.”
He said Tuesday’s can get a bit hectic as people want to see the latest movies, and people often call to make reservations. Detweiler has always been true to this format of film, and is proud to have never subscribed to Netflix or any other streaming services.
“One of the keys to success is the prime location which includes restaurants, bars and clothing stores. People walk in here and are astonished we are still here, and able to keep this place alive,” Detweiler said. “Every person who works here loves movies too, and we’re always happy to recommend films to our customers or help them in any way that we can and that’s an interaction you can’t get from a streaming service.”