DVD and VHS fans still have a shop to call their own: Village Mall Video

2 Oct

Tucked away on the second floor of an old church at the west end of the Village of Webster is a relic of days past; a time before Netflix and Hulu, when choosing a movie to watch on Friday or Saturday night actually meant leaving the house to rent one at Blockbuster or Wegmans.

It’s Village Mall Video, in The Old Church Mall at 75 W. Main. Like most of us, I’ve walked and driven by this little shop thousands of times in the years I’ve lived in and near Webster. And many of those times, I’ve crinkled my brow and wondered, “How can a video store still be in business?”

Last week I decided to take the plunge and get an answer to that question. I stopped in and had a very nice conversation with Karen Fideor, who’s been managing the store since the day it opened 40 years ago.

As its name implies, The Old Church Mall was originally a Methodist church, dedicated in 1860 and active for more than a century. In the 1970s, following the merger of three local congregations, the church was vacated and the top floor — the former church sanctuary — morphed into a discoteque. The former classrooms on the lower floor became a “street of shops” which to this day has hosted a rotating series of offices and independent businesses.

It was about 1980 when Karen’s husband Bob and his brother purchased the building and opened the video store. It’s been there ever since.

It’s that longevity that intrigued me and motivated me to see what was behind that church door and all those signs I’d driven by so many times. What I found when I climbed the stairs to the second-floor store was a bright, good-sized shop lined with movie posters and filled with shelves stacked top-to-bottom with DVDs. And from behind the counter, Karen Fideor welcomed me.

Apparently there are still a lot of people who still like to rent movies. “Pretty much they’re all regulars,” Karen said, “people who don’t want to pay money to watch a movie on their TV so they come and rent.” Even with streaming services, you often have to pay a steep premium to get some of the classics or older popular titles. But at Village Mall Video, you can rent a DVD for just $3.50, and keep it for a whole week.

And VHS tapes? They’re still very popular with collectors, who often come in to check out her extensive collection. Some customers are also suprised to find out that many movies aren’t even available on DVD, but are often on VHS (VHS tapes only cost $2.50 for the week, by the way). Karen still actually has more VHS tapes than DVDs in stock.

So Village Mall Video is still in business because, well, people still love their movies. But a lot has changed in the last 40 years. When she opened the shop, Karen started with only 500 titles, offering each title in VHS and Beta. At one time, she also rented video games and had several different gaming systems set up to try them on.

The computer games have been phased out, and DVDs have replaced Beta cassettes (although the Betas are all upstairs, if you really want one). Karen’s not sure how many titles she has now, but estimates it’s in the tens of thousands.

What hasn’t changed is the personalized service. When you ask for a specific title, if it’s in the shop, Karen will usually know exactly where it is. When she doesn’t, she’ll look it up in her old-fashioned card catalog. And the prices are hard to beat.

So, how about a movie night tonight?

Village Mall Video is located at 75 West Main St., in the Village of Webster. Hours are Thursday and Friday 1 to 7, and Saturday 11 to 7. For more information, call 585-872-0140.

Here are some photos from inside the shop and the “street of shops” downstairs:

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2 Responses to “DVD and VHS fans still have a shop to call their own: Village Mall Video”

  1. readmybook2002 October 2, 2021 at 7:47 am #

    This is great column. I always wondered about the store but never stopped in. Thank You

    • websterontheweb October 2, 2021 at 8:02 am #

      Thanks! I KNEW that I wasn’t the only one wondering…

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