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Donations Save Vidiots From Closure

4 Feb, 2015 By: John Latchem

Plans to close iconic Santa Monica, Calif., video store Vidiots have been put on hold after an influx of donations dedicated to keeping the store open.

Owners Cathy Tauber and Patty Polinger announced in late January that the 30-year-old store would close in April due to years of experiencing financial losses. This prompted film producer Megan Ellison and longtime customer Leonard M. Lipman M.D. to donate money to keep the store open for the foreseeable future, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"This all this just happened and we are beyond thrilled," Tauber told the Times. "We will not be closing. We will be around for hopefully a long time."

The donation amounts were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal reported the store would need about $150,000 annually to avoid going under.

Since its founding in 1985, Vidiots became a haven for fans of independent film and now houses a collection of about 50,000 titles, many of which have notes from filmmakers scribbled on their VHS or DVD covers. But the rise of Internet streaming made it more difficult to compete in the home video market, and Tauber told the Times that rentals have dropped 24% since mid 2014 and are down 60% from the store's peak years in the early 2000s.

In 2012, Vidiots formed the nonprofit Vidiots Foundation to maintain its collection while continuing public outreach. Other fundraising efforts included more in-store events with filmmakers and contests to meet industry professionals. An online crowdfunding campaign was considered but dismissed as not a viable long-term option.

Indications are that Ellison, daughter of former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, will play a close role with the store, helping to make Vidiots “a new, exciting, sustainable place with an independent mindset," according to Tauber.

Ellison’s Annapurna production house has participated in making such films as Zero Dark Thirty, Her and Foxcatcher. A post on the Vidiots Facebook page teased a new section of the store called “Megan’s Pix” highlighting her DVD selections.

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