Lost Weekend Video folds, sells its collection to Alamo Drafthouse

The Lost Weekend Video collection at Alamo Drafthouse. | Photo: J.P. M./Yelp

The past decade has been hard on San Francisco video stores. Once a citywide staple, they've been decimated by the rise of streaming services and rental machines like Redbox.

These days, the city is down to just three. There's Noe Valley's Video Wave, which has stayed afloat through crowdfunding. The Mission's Faye's Coffee & Video just celebrated its 20th anniversary, but its owners admit they make most of their money on java, not DVD rentals.

And then there's Lost Weekend Video, which operates under a unique arrangement: after losing its Mission storefront in 2016, it moved its operations into the lobby of the then-new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater.

Now, Lost Weekend's owners have decided to get out of the rental business as well, selling their collection to Alamo. The video-store-within-a-theater at 2550 Mission St. will continue to operate, rebranded as Video Vortex.

Alamo Drafthouse manager Kat Shuchter said that the sale happened in early September, but couldn't comment as to why the owners chose to sell. Hoodline reached out to Lost Weekend's owners directly, but they did not respond.
The Video Vortex collection for rent at Alamo Drafthouse. | Photo: David Y./Yelp

It's not the first time the Alamo Drafthouse has scooped up a closing SF video store's collection. When 35-year-old Inner Sunset staple Le Video shuttered in 2016, leaving behind an archive of more than 90,000 titles, Alamo partnered with production company Annapurna Pictures to buy it.

"The original plan was for Alamo to open its own video store with its own collection from Le Video," Shuchter said. "When Lost Weekend lost their lease, Alamo welcomed them to use the lobby, which meant there was no space for the Le Video collection to go."

After lingering in boxes for two years, the Le Video archive moved to the Alamo in Raleigh, North Carolina, where it now forms the backbone of another Video Vortex location.

A third Video Vortex operates out of the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn, New York, renting the tapes and DVDs that once belonged to another popular and now-closed video store, Video Free Brooklyn.

While Shuchter says that each video store's collection will remain separate and only available for rent at its respective location, she plans on combing through the title libraries to look for duplicates.

"I'll be looking at each location to see what titles we have extra copies of, to fill in the gaps in each of the collections," she said. Eventually, she hopes all three will become more robust.

Shuchter also highlighted the offerings at Video Vortex that are different from traditional video stores, from movie merchandise to vinyl soundtracks to the opportunity to grab a drink at in-house bar Bear & Bull.

"The Drafthouse is opening the video stores of the 21st century," she said.
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