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Vidiots Seeing 'Increased Momentum' in Business After Call-Out for Help

The local movie-rental store is on the rebound after asking customers and the community for support.

Spoiler alert: Movie-rental stores are in trouble. Blockbuster, formerly the biggest of the bunch, is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while Hollywood Video shut down almost a year ago.

To the alarm of many Santa Monicans, local favorite had been poised to become the latest victim of the trend. On Feb. 4, owners Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber sent out an SOS to their faithful fans, saying the 25-year-old store was in financial trouble.

But exactly one month later, the store's forecast has very much improved, thanks—in part, at least—to an outpouring of support from customers and the community. From January to February, rentals jumped 12 percent, according to figures just released by the store. Moreover, customers have been buying memberships and T-shirts to show their support for Vidiots, which is located near Third and Pico.

"If we continue with this increased momentum, we'll be able to pay off the debt we accrued," Polinger told Santa Monica Patch on Tuesday morning. The debts pertain to not only the store's poor rentals but also the annex that Vidiots opened in July.

Polinger and Tauber have been firing on many fronts. At the behest of a customer, they launched the Vidiots Preservation Society, a membership program that entails unlimited rentals, private screenings and parties. They also ramped up local advertising and social networking, as well as efforts to get involved with film guilds.

"Passionate people came forward and had time, money and ideas," Polinger said.

After issuing their call-out for support, Polinger and Tauber assembled an eight-person committee that helped generate the aforementioned ideas. Moreover, since Feb. 4, they've linked up with a documentary filmmaker who will be renting their annex space, providing more financial relief.

As for the Vidiots Preservation Society, it consists of three tiers: a platinum level that costs $1,000 annually and includes unlimited rentals for a year (two at a time and no due dates), a five-week class and a private screening or party in the annex; a gold tier that costs $500 a year and entails the same as the above, except customers can take out rentals one at a time; and a silver level that is priced at $250 and includes the class and screening/party.

Scheduled classes include a character-development session led by Patty Meyer, who teachers a master's class at the American Film Institute. Also, actress/comedian/writer/director Amy French (El Superstar) will lead an upcoming, one-night-only course on improvisation in film.

Some noted actors are slated to turn out for French's class, according to Polinger. She added that there's "something else exciting going on," although the details are still being solidified for that additional event.

Despite the recent outpouring of support for Vidiots, which counts Oliver Stone as a fan, some of the store's bump in business could be due to the weather-related downpours that occurred in January and February.

"We did have rain, which always helps us," Polinger said. "I have to attribute a lot of [the increased traffic] to the weather."

Still, the Vidiots faithful are continuing to show their support for the store—and vice versa.

According to a joint statement released by both owners, "Hearing the personal stories of how Vidiots impacts people both individually and as part of the community has been both amazing and heart-warming."

Isabel Storey March 08, 2011 at 07:47 PM
My husband and I are loyal Vidiots customers going back more than 20 years! Three cheers for Vidiots. They provide an important service in our changing media world - keeping classic and in some cases rare titles available for viewing - and providing a personalized, curated experience for customers! Long live Vidiots!!!
Kurt Orzeck March 08, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Hi Isabel, Thanks so much for you comments. Vidiots is a local treasure, indeed. All the best, Kurt
carol March 08, 2011 at 08:58 PM
Moved here almost seven years ago, without much enthusiasm I'm so rry to say. Then, I happened upon Vidiots. My first joyous discovery in this hood. We/it must persevere. Best wishes, Carol
Kurt Orzeck March 08, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Hi Carol, That's a great story. I moved here shortly before you did. Hopefully you've found other aspects in town that make you a proud Santa Monican? All the best, Kurt
john printy March 10, 2011 at 08:00 AM
MY thought is about video stores these days in this ever changing TECH world in that we live, I really do think that video stores now these days, are numberd, in again this ever changing high TECH world in which we do live in now, where now we can get, and watch movies on our computers, and watch them on line, or get them through the mail via netflix's, and red box, even, but my thought is why not keep these video stores around like blockbuster, and hollywood video, of which these stores have people working at them trying to make a living, and I think that if these stores go out of bussiness you half to relize how many of these hard working people would be out of a job. in this tough econemy so why not keep these stores around instead of closing them, and puttin many hard work people who work in these stores out of work all together....
ken hense May 30, 2011 at 01:34 AM
I have been a member of Vidiots since the beginning. Only a few communities could support a store ike this - which carries a wide variety of domestic and foreign films that you would not find in chain video outlets. There could not be a Vidiots in Bakersfield or Fresno. I hope this store remains - as a part of the culture for which Los Angeles - the Westside - and Santa Monica in particular are known for.

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