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Scrappy Veteran Indie Store Hosts Summer Film Class

5 Jul, 2010 By: Daniel Xu

We all know the story of those little corner stores that stand in the shadow of their bigger corporate neighbors. Fortunately for Vidiots, the Santa Monica, Calif., independent video store just blocks away from both a Blockbuster Video store and a Redbox kiosk, co-owners Cathy Tauber and Patty Polinger are resilient.

Weathering crushing waves of major rental chains popping up at all sides — now receding in this tough economic climate — Vidiots still has managed to expand, and the space it has bought around its seaside locale has paved the way for its newest venture, the Vidiots Annex.

“We want it to be fun and educational,” Tauber said of the new 500-square-foot classroom in the center of her store. “It is a community place where people can talk about movies.”

Ever since childhood friends Tauber and Polinger started Vidiots 25 years ago, the store has prided itself not only on its massive library of fabled, hard-to-find titles, but also on its knowledgeable staff, serving as film librarians to enthusiasts and industry professionals alike.

“Our regular customers often look for unusual titles, specific scenes that involve a father and a son, for example,” Tauber said. “We also help a lot of production companies do research, such as on a specific actor.”

A more formal meeting of the minds seemed a natural next step.

“Everyone we talked to thought it was a great idea and wanted to be involved,” Tauber said.

And so the Vidiots Annex is debuting this summer and already boasts instructors from various sectors of the film industry, including actors, directors, writers and critics. One of the most popular classes so far is author and film historian Tom Kemper’s auteurs’ series in July.

The room also hosts Saturday night film clubs with free screenings during the summer. In the fall Tauber said the room will be rented out for private screenings and other uses.

As much as it was created to expand knowledge of film, the classroom does not aim to be a film school.

“These classes are more for enjoyment, something for film lovers to do,” Tauber said.

Anyone interested can register at www.vidiotsannex.com, with classes running through summer.

Tauber said her customers are  encouraged Vidiots is trying something new and will likely stick around.

Even so, tough challenges lie ahead. Because of the differences in their film libraries and target demographics, rental chains such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have not really been Vidiots’ direct competition, Tauber said. It’s the online rental outlets such as Netflix, with its virtually infinite amount of inventory space, that are more troublesome, not to mention the up-and-coming streaming of content — which is beyond the technological capabilities of a store that is still weeding out VHS movies now available on DVD.

Tauber, however, isn’t ready to stray from her method of success.

“Doing what we know has been a good thing for us, staying true to our own tastes,” she said. “We feel like if we go in that direction [of online], we [will] have to rely on someone else, and we’ve shied away from that.”

But if that’s something her customers one day demand?

 “We are not saying it’s not possible,” she said. “It’s certainly a possibility.”

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