104-Mile Movie Route
I’ve been a fan of Videoport since 1995 when I was living in Portsmouth and driving to Portland to rent my movies. The store is that good.
Opened in 1987 by Bill Duggan, Videoport is a Portland icon of quirkiness and independence. They file their movies under headers such as Incredibly Strange Films (which includes the entire Russ Meyers collection) as well as a niche section dedicated strictly to Anime.
Located on the basement level of Middle Street, the walls of the store are decorated with a John F. Kennedy towel, cans of Spam and retired license plates. It has a den-like feel; no corporate graphics here. In a town where the sidewalks pretty much roll up by 8 p.m., Videoport is open until 11 p.m. every night of the week.
The staffers are well-versed and are always willing to help. A special thanks goes out to April for moving the shelves to help my son recover a beloved Godzilla toy that somehow got stuck underneath on its way to destroy Tokyo. “When I was a kid, my favorite doll was a Godzilla,” she said.
Their customer service continues to win over fans. A Yelp.com reviewer commented,
“One of the best video stores I've ever been to, including everything I went to the entire time I lived in NYC. The staff is consistently personable and helpful. The selection is amazing and they're always open to suggestions. Not many things would make me cancel my Netflix subscription, but this place did.”
They indeed are open to suggestions. Customers can write them in the three-ring binder provided for this very purpose. You’ll find pages of desired titles such as “Paranormal State, Season One” and “Recycled Life.” In cases where the requested film is actually in stock, a chirpy note in red indicates, “It’s here! Look in Horror!”
Back in the days when they delivered, I had a friend in the midst of a bad break up call Videoport, explain her romantic plight and ask for a delivery of black comedies to see her through her woes. When the doorbell rang, instead of “Dr. Strangelove,” she got “Booty Call” and a reprimand not to wallow in her woes.
Each week, Videoport takes out an ad highlighting available rentals. Written by a staffer, the advertisement is in the form of a narrative that follows a theme (Best of Robert Downey Junior, bad movies starring dogs, etc). If you want to find out about new releases, go online. If you want a smart and irreverent view on movies and the state of the world, read the weekly write-up.
Through all the advances in media, Videoport remains. They survived the growth of cable networks, the transition from VHS to DVD, the arrival (and departure) of Hollywood Video and now Netflix. For me, no trip to Videoport is complete without running in to people. I catch up with old friends, get reviews from strangers, see who’s got a new dog or a new kid and feel pretty darn good about living in Portland. I don’t think you run into people on Netflix.
If you go:
Put $30 on your account and they give you $40 in credit.
Every night is a free rental, just ask for the daily deal.
Videoport on MySpace:
Videoport on Facebook:
Yelp.com reviews of Videoport