Yesterday, the last-standing location of the once-great Manhattan retail chain Kim’s Video & Music shut down. The 1st Ave. spot held on while other Kim’s branches across the borough closed, becoming a sort of endangered species, one that has now become extinct. For any music/film snob living in or just visiting New York City, Kim’s was a required stop. The store lasted from 1987 to 2014, which is a hell of a run. The many eulogies that have already been posted (including Martin Schneider’s beautifully written piece for Dangerous Minds, which includes some old photos of the place in action) speak volumes to the store’s reputation. It’s a store tied to so many memories for so many people. So here are some of mine:
I found Kim’s completely by accident. It was a freezing afternoon, and I was out with two friends, still pretty unfamiliar with New York City, walking up 1st Ave. We were intrigued by the displays outside, and we stumbled into the store. It was immediately a place I felt like I belonged: Something from Talk Talk’s The Colour Of Spring was playing over the speakers, as I walked by a stack of copies of The Wire. I don’t buy much vinyl these days, but still have a crippling addiction to DVDs.
I headed through the aisles looking for a foreign-movies section, specifically for anything by Yasujirō Ozu — which will yield slim pickings in most video stores. I was stunned when I saw he had his own section. Looking to my left and right, I grew overwhelmed by the selection: entire sections dedicated to great directors, some you’d never find at all in most video stores. It was too much. I felt like I was sinking … until I realized I actually was: The floor right in front of the Ozu section at Kim’s on 1st had always been really fucked up. I don’t know if they ever got that fixed. On that first trip, I ended up buying an import of Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror (something I had never even realized was available on DVD), a copy of Ozu’s Early Summer, his silent film A Story Of Floating Weeds, and the talkie remake he did decades later called Floating Weeds.
I left the store more than $100 bucks lighter. Those films I bought feel fitting now, as more and more legendary record/video stores have their plugs pulled. The Mirror track the stream-of-consciousness memories of a man who has become terminally ill too young. Meanwhile Ozu’s gorgeous, colorful Floating Weeds follows the aging leader of a Kabuki troupe performing in a less-than-ideal small town, gradually dealing with the fact that the world is growing less interested in what he has to offer. In the end, his troupe disbands. Bankrupt, the troupe leader and his mistress find strength in each other, and keep moving on.
Kim’s, you were great, I don’t regret a single penny I ever spent in your store. Does anybody know where I can buy issues of The Wire now?
[Photo via @Devhynes.]