Maybe Dylan MacNiven Can Buy Them?

Lost Weekend Video In an "Immediate Crisis," Struggling to Stay Open

Perhaps old video stores need to die. We all stream our movies on Popcorn Time or Netflix or via your friend’s ex-girlfriend’s parent’s HBO Go password anyway.

But Lost Weekend Video is just shy of their 20th anniversary, and it would be a shame to lose them. Their staff is friendly and knowledgable, they allow some of California’s best up-and-coming stand-up comedians to perform in their basement, and they always have that obscure movie Big Streaming’s licensing agreements forgot. However their business is plummeting, and now they’re fighting for survival.

An open letter being circulated spells out the problem:

Times are tough at Lost Weekend Video! We’ve seen business suddenly drop by 30% just in the last few months, on top of the 60% hit we’ve already taken over the last few years. This has thrown us into pretty immediate crisis. We’d been working with an architect & the City to open a larger version of the Cinecave in the back half of the main space upstairs, but have found that it’s impossible due to a combination of the layout of the building & Valencia Street business restrictions. That has left us pretty much out of options.

So now we’re looking at the Le Video solution to keep us open. If anyone knows anyone with an actual solid business plan interested in sharing the upstairs space with us, please have them contact us via the website. It’d be great to find something that fit in with our old school Valencia vibe & could provide an opportunity for someone who wouldn’t be able to afford V St otherwise. Spread the word or if nothing else, rent a movie, see some comedy or come watch the soccer with us & throw a buck or two in the bucket. We’re a year away from 20, it’d be nice to see it!

In an interview with the SF Bay Guardian, Lost Weekend co-owner David Hawkins frames their struggle as not strictly about neighborhood video stores, but the future of community spaces in the Mission:

This is not just about video stores. This is about so many different kinds of retail that are going to disappear from all kinds of neighborhoods as this goes on. And if that’s the way that everybody wants to go, then that’s the way we’re gonna go. But if people stop and think about what’s cool about having some diversity of retail in your neighborhood — there’s something to be said about these kinds of places where you can just go in, browse around, and you don’t necessarily have to buy anything. It’s place to hang out and meet people, talk to people.

Lost Weekend might be hard to save—modern laptops don’t even come with disc drives anymore. But if you want to see them stick around, go see a show in Cynic Cave. Geek out on their Asteroids machine. Or, hell, rent a movie.

[Photo: Todd Lappin | h/t SF Weekly]

Comments (35)

As much as I like shows there, the video rental model was pretty bad.  They should have updated their business model a long time ago, I don’t even own something that can play discs (literally).  Now like every other business, their own failings are couched in terms of some overarching Valencia street class struggle where them dying is a sign that San Francisco has lost its soul.  It gets sickening to me, cue the kickstarter page for money.

I hope they survive, but it’s time to look in Bayview, dogpatch, hell just a bit down Mission st in the Excelsior.  I had dinner in the Excelsior recently, a Filipino joint, there was a house band run by the owners and random early 20 something hipsters would come up and do karaoke with them.  I mean are people unaware that there are plenty of funky cool parts of town left?  Besides Valencia st, that area has been fancy since I moved here a bit after the first dot com boom.

“This is not just about video stores.”

Actually yes, it is.

“This is about so many different kinds of retail that are going to disappear from all kinds of neighborhoods as this goes on.”

Actually no, it’s not.  It’s about video stores, which nobody needs or wants any more.

“there’s something to be said about these kinds of places where you can just go in, browse around, and you don’t necessarily have to buy anything.”

You can say several somethings about places like that.  Things like “yes, I like public libraries too, they’re awesome” and also things like “businesses where nobody buys anything tend not to be businesses for very long.”

Look, the folks at lost weekend are really nice, and I wish them the best of luck.  But if what they want to run is a community gathering space that doesn’t make much or any money, there are already several of those in the Mission that could use their volunteer hours.  But if you’re running a for-profit business and occupying a zoned retail space, you don’t get to appeal to “neighborhood spirit” when the neighborhood decides it doesn’t need the product you are allegedly selling any more.

The folks over at Borderlands saw this train coming a long ways off and made the changes (buying the space next door, converting it into a cafe, shrinking the footage of the bookstore) necessary to survive.  Why should we prop up a business that didn’t?  It’s not like the death of the video store is coming as a surprise to anyone at this point.

They did see this comming.  That’s why they built the Cinecave.  As stated above thye would like to expand that but zoning prevents them.

Well, at least you didn’t try to blame their struggles on gentrification, I guess.

But if they can succeed as a member-supported nonprofit community space, then hey, good for them. Just give up being a business already. What’s strange about his argument about the need for “having these kinds of places where you can just go in, browse around,” etc.  is that it doesn’t seem to occur to him that this doesn’t actually require _retail_. In fact, restricting so much of our social activity to the commercial sphere seems like a big mistake in retrospect, doesn’t it?

I am really bummed to read about this. It really sucks that Netflix killed off the video stores. Then, as soon as they got their little monopoly, they raised their rates. Netflix sucks sooooo bad now…they have nothing!! So where are we supposed to go to get our movies? Damn…Lost Weekend is such an awesome video store. I hope people will support them and that something works out!!

“We all stream our movies…”

Well, no we don’t. Not when Netflick’s selection of 25,000 film titles wilts before Le Video’s 100,000. And you don’t get gorgeous Blu-Ray resolution on your computer. If I lived in the Mission, you can bet I’d rent at Lost Weekend. It’s like shopping at your neighborhood grocery instead of Whole Foods, Cole Hardware insteadt of Target, or taking a cab instead of a Silicon billionaire-backed death ride. Support your community, folks!

Was with you up until “Cab”.  

Yeah, remember when the one thing every San Franciscan could agree on is, “our taxi service is awful”? Now, simply by being the “traditional” alternative to the Uber/Lyft approach, cabs have become some old-school, artisanal cause celebre. Nope. If it’s getting better (with, e.g., flywheel), it’s because of the competition.

Your funeral. 

A great neighborhood institution

Visitacion Valley, Hunter’s Point, Excelsior, etc could all use a bit of hipster fixing ups.

Hell yeah !!

Move to Excelsior ! You can even have your own drive-by spray-and-prays on your fixies.

Plus murals. Hipsters love murals.

oh jesus. did you just say “fixie” and “hipster”?

you do realize that hipsters are dead right? motherfuckers are on some new new new shit. 

What’s with the comments here becoming as bad as SFGate?

What’s with the topics become so goddam mundane? Things change and this one is way overdue.

The same small group of pathetic ass-trolls show up for every new post to shit all over everyone, especially themselves.

They have zero sense of their own transparency, or the fact that the rest of us find them, by turns, laughable and sad.

Hiya -

LWV co-owner here. I’ll post the same response I posted to the SFBG article, just to give you my personal answer to the “why don’t they just go out of business if nobody likes them anymore” question (you’ve already heard my business partner’s answer). Honestly the main reason that I haven’t quite given up on the shop is that I don’t think people realize the resource they lose when the last video stores are gone. I spend all day on the phone with people calling me up looking for a film they couldn’t believe they couldn’t find online. People drive from all over the Bay Area (I have a customer who drives up from San Jose twice a week to rent & others from across all the bridges), because there are thousands of films that haven’t been made available on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes or even the pirate sites yet. I don’t fault people for using all of those services, as they’re a great deal & they have plenty of stuff that we don’t have the pockets to carry, but people don’t notice the absence of something until they’re looking for it.

I opened LWV because I love movies & I want to keep it open because the movie lover in me would be bummed to not be able to watch all the cool films we have. If you’re a casual fan, your life might not be affected by the loss of video stores, just as with book or record stores. But if movies are important to you then places like ours or Le Video or Video Wave or Faye’s should remain in your sights. Basically just keep us in the rotation. Use all of those other services, but occasionally throw us a bone so we’re there when you need us. We’d much prefer people to make a point to rent a movie once a month than to take donations, which is why we’re hoping to cut costs with a complementary co-tenant. If it doesn’t work out or there aren’t enough die-hard movie fans left, then we can close & it’ll be OK. Most of the video store owners that I know, myself included, are living mostly on savings these days, so none of us want to drag this process out forever. The remaining video stores in the Bay Area just want to let everyone know what’s going on so that there’s time for some public discussion about it before we all close & SF is left without one. Either way, we appreciate the debate.


Now I feel bad for renting a movie from Fayes last night.

Adapt, or die. Simple as that. I remember loving to roam Blockbuster for movies and video games. My parents have fond memories of the milk man – dad?

Best thing they could do is partner with Netflix and become a Netflix Cinema of sorts. #idea #genius #fundthis

And one of the ways you adapt is by doing community outreach instead of just assuming that people will know that you exist and that they should go.

Does being so obnoxious and boorish on the world wide webs make you feel good about yourself? I certainly hope so. Because you’re contributing fuck all otherwise. At least someone would be getting something out of your uncouth maunderings.

I’m a mouthbreather, just like you.

You might breathe out of your mouth, but you talk out of soemthing else.

While it’s nice to think we can all get everything “online” the fact is you can’t. Netflix just announced they are axing a lot of classic movies for good, and wil ax more just “because” (licensing etc or whatever legal BS). So you can’t get everything online, and there are plenty of other good movies and videos that will NEVER be online for various reasons. So a video store is needed ,but the model of the 1980s-90s of it being a high volume biz may not be viable. 

But putting this aside for a moment, when you lose a business like this and it gets replaced by some overpriced knick knack shop, Yet Another Artisan Bullshit Overpriced Foodie Place, you end up with a dull neighborhood easily replicated at the mall or another city. The point of living in the Mission isn’t to live at the mall or some other Hipster Enclave. 

BTW Le Video was in a tough spot and they are now merging with Green Apple Books and are retaining their space on 9th avenue. Maybe something similar would work for lWV?

Le Video owns their building. Does Lost Weekend own theirs? If not, how much time remains on their lease? The neighborhood pattern has been: as soon as the lease is up, the rent triples.

In San Francisco (actually, everywhere) it comes down to who owns the real estate.

Bummer.  If Lost Weekend disappears it’ll be a real loss to the neighborhood and the city.  Alas.

Unfortunately money does not negate class, intelligence or taste, otherwise the neo-dot-commies would understand that culture can’t be bought, that small shops like these aren’t just there for you to get a book, a record, a film (which I doubt any of the negative commenters actually participate in anyways…just a guess)- they are more than that, and to even have a debate about it is why people who love living in the neighborhoods are so depressed about the new spawn that is flooding into them. If you find that people wanting to support their friends, family, neighbors as a problem that should be snuffed out, than I think it is time you move to a isolated island with your laptop and get the fuck out of here! 

The reason people flock to San Francisco (especially the Mission) is because of Aquarius Records, Adobe, Modern Times, Lost Weekend, Community Thrift, VPP, the murals, flax, the rad food and bars (that are slowely turning into restored wood nightmares), it is about enjoying and supporting your community, the community that these businesses have fostered and we the people who love our community should be thanking them for being fucking awesome and for dedicating their lives to enriching us- we should be thanking all of the people that are way over qualified working at these places because they understand that art, culture and the tradition of knowing things because you have dedicated your life to them, and not because you became an instant know-it-all on the internet. But that’s okay, I too find the service at radioshack these days to be awesome and look forward to many more of that in the V. corridor.

When Valencia Street starts looking like Pier 39 think about what you said earlier…I can look at most the readers of this blog to send thank you notes to.

Lost Weekend Videos sounds like this blog.   Times have changed and its struggling to stay open.

“modern laptops don’t even come with disc drives anymore”…

Do yourself a favor and stop watching movies on your computer and phone. Get a Blu-ray player (they are cheap now) and a decent TV (Secure a Plasma before they are all gone and you’re stuck with LCD), maybe even an AVR or Soundbar, and you will be able to actually enjoy your movies. You miss a lot with streaming, small screens and tinny speakers.

I know lots of people still rocking VHS and vinyl. You can buy both mediums on the street most days, too.

I’ve rented several movies since I first read this.  I like the option of renting movies that aren’t available online, and also just browsing the selection or asking for advice.  While I’m not sure my occasional $2 or $3.5 is going to matter to a business that probably needs high volume, eh it might help




3 words

Seriously. Over two weeks since a post. Kevmo is pretty busy with ValleyWag I guess.

All of the Mission blogs are disintegrating due to lack of content. How many stories can you write about business closings, restaurants/bar openings, and new condos? What else happens here?

Our new neighbors are just too busy making and spending money. 2 weeks per post is more than enough. 

Good Riddance!