Like a beacon of arthouse-film hope, Video One took up residence in a converted house on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Downing Street about four years ago. Though its paint color is more muted than the bright purple-y hue the structure wore in its past life as consignment store Twice As Haute, Video One is still hard to miss. But it's striking presence isn't just about the building; it's about the idea that in an age of instant-streaming gratification, Denver has managed to keep this great video store alive.
Still, Video One needs help. Owner Jeff Hahn says that while the community has provided enough business to keep his doors open for the near future, it's not enough to sustain things for the long term. His potential solution? Turn Video One in a nonprofit video library. Hahn sees the value in not just providing a place for customers to get their hands on latest releases and more harder-to-find titles, but as a venue for conversation and education about film.
"We like having a brick-and-mortar store. Most of our inventory is stuff that you can't find on the Internet to stream or even pirate and download," Hahn says. "[The Internet] is really geared toward what's popular and new. It allows for a lot of convenience and ease, which definitely works in our culture." While convenience is a key factor in online movie-watching options, the owner believes that the experience of accidentally discovering a cult classic or getting a movie recommendation from a human film expert (as opposed to a Netflix-like recommendation algorithm) is where a Video One video library could shine.
Recently, Hahn launched an Indigogo campaign to raise $50,000 to aid in Video One's transition into a nonprofit. He says that by watching the success of Seattle's Scarecrow Video, which raised more than $130,000 to make a similar transition, Hahn believes the shop has a chance. He'd like to double the size of his film inventory to more than 60,000 titles and make some improvements to the store. "I'd like to get our popcorn machine fixed, at least," he says with a laugh.
For now, Video One has quite a bit of work to do before joining the nonprofit world. Raising money, forming a board of directors and applying for nonprofit status are all part of the plan. Hahn hopes that the community Video One has served for almost three decades will come out and support the store's potential new life. (And although Video One claims on Indiegogo to be "the last video store in Denver," that's not true: The neighboring Videotique has been in the biz almost as long and is still going strong.)
"It's like home to me, and our customers are like family and friends — they're neighborhood people that I see everywhere," says Hahn. "I bought this store [from the original owner] knowing that it wasn't really going to make me money, but I also felt like there was no one else who could keep it going at that point. Throughout this time, I've been able to hang in there and keep it going."
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