Berkeley rental store asking for help to stay in business


Reel Video, located at 2655 Shattuck Ave., is trying to raise at least $200,000 by the end of July to stay afloat, assistant store director James Lemon said today.

If not, more than 80,000 movies, many of which are rare or decades old, will leave a community full of movie lovers and film students at the nearby University of California at Berkeley, Lemon said.

The closure of the store is looming after its parent company, Movie Gallery, Inc., which operates the Hollywood Video chain of stores, filed for bankruptcy in February.

The company purchased Reel Video more than a decade ago, but the store has sought to maintain an independent feel by focusing on older, hard-to-find movies rather than new releases. Store officials said the store is still profitable despite the financial problems of its parent company.

Lemon said as of today, one person has pledged to donate $50,000 to help buy the business, and two other people have also expressed interest in donating large amounts.

Store officials have not received word about a set deadline for when they need to come up with the money, but "I suspect we only have until the end of this month," Lemon said.

"There's also been a lot of talk about a fundraiser concert with a bunch of bands playing," but nothing has been confirmed, he said.

Store officials have talked to East Bay Media Center, a local nonprofit, about potentially helping to provide additional services if the store is saved, such as in-store film screenings and discounts for educational materials or movies shown in film classes.

If the store cannot be saved, it would be liquidated and closed by the parent company.

"Basically a couple people would come and buy up all the movies, and the building would be vacant until another business decided to rent it out, which is a drag too. Another huge vacant building in South Berkeley," Lemon said.

Information about the store and how to help is available at or by sending an e-mail to Those interested can also go to the store or call (510) 548-1118 and ask for James or Stephen during regular business hours, which are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday.

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