Last weekend the Chronicle told the encouraging tale of tiny, 32-year-old Video Wave, which was saved by loyal Noe Valley neighbors by sharing space with a candy store. But a move last year to share its space with Green Apple Books has not helped the Inner Sunset's much beloved Le Video (1231 9th Avenue), which is now for sale and will either close for good or move and change names by the end of the year.
As KQED reports, Paris-born owner Catherine Tchen, who currently lives in Portland, is in negotiations with a prospective buyer for the 35-year-old store's renowned, 90,000-title collection of often rare DVDs and VHS tapes, and she was hoping to be able to announce the sale soon. Her goal, she says, is that the collection be "kept in one place and open to the public," which this buyer will apparently do, likely under another name.
Should the sale fall through, she will begin selling off the collection to the public, which KQED predicts will set off "a frenzy of film lovers looking for cinematic gold."
Tchen says her only income now is from the building, and she needs to sell the business in order to continue to support her elderly mother, who has dementia.
The store's troubles of course stem from everyone's increased reliance on Netflix and streaming services, and reluctance to seek out brick-and-mortar video stores, even though Le Video boasts availability of rare and foreign titles you will likely not find on Netflix or anywhere else for that matter. Tchen says that despite the outpouring of support both last year and in prior years, the majority of movie buffs had begun using the store only as a last resort, after exhausting more convenient options.
Also, the move upstairs, leasing the ground floor to Green Apple, apparently cut business by a third last year, despite plenty of signage explaining they were still upstairs.
Stay tuned to find out if this vast and important archive said to be the biggest selection of titles in California will be staying in town, and available the next time you need to find a copy of Pink Narcissus or Boudou Saved From Drowning.