In Louisville’s Portland Neighborhood, Video Store Struggles As Faster Internet Arrives

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Tim Bruederle spends much of his time in a worn leather computer chair behind the counter of Portland Video. From his seat, he can see the four rows of DVDs out front for rent — divided into new releases, action, horror and comedy.

He can also keep an eye on his nine-year-old cat, Babysocks, whose food bowl is under an out-of-order popcorn machine in the back.

Thirty years ago, Bruederle’s “Portland Video” was the first movie rental shop in the neighborhood.

“When we first opened up, it was great,” Bruederle said. “It was a booming business at first. You know, there were VCRs. We’d rent out [tapes] and every weekend people would get them and we did real good.”

But that’s not the case now.

“We’re ’bout ready to go out,” he said. “People aren’t coming in anymore.”

Considering that it’s been almost a decade since Hollywood Video filed bankruptcy and Blockbuster first started closing its stores, it’s impressive that Bruederle has held on this long. But walking into Portland Video definitely feels like a little bit of a time warp.

Bruederle takes down customers’ information on Post-it notes, nineties rom-coms dominate the shelf-space, and behind the counter, he displays a “wall of shame,” which is a bulletin board covered with the names of people who haven’t returned their rentals.

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Bruederle at Portland Video

“That’s the people who owe me money,” Bruerderle said. “Shame on them. I mean, what else in this business are you gonna do? You can’t go to their door.”

For many decades, the Portland neighborhood has been one of the poorest areas of Louisville.

But thanks to recent revitalization efforts, things are changing. Shotgun houses are getting fixed up, new businesses are opening, and last month, Portland became one of the first Louisville neighborhoods hooked up to Google Fiber’s “ultra-high speed Internet service.”

For many in the redeveloping neighborhood — including lifelong residents who have long struggled with spotty Internet access — this is great news.

Related Story J. Tyler Franklin

The rental options at Portland Video

He’s also stocking some newer releases, like “Cars 3,” which a customer returned that day.

But he knows it’s just a matter of time.

While Bruederle owns the building — and actually lives in the space behind the video store — he filed for bankruptcy several years ago.

“I have to pay that off before I can quit,” he said. “That’ll be it. I’m getting ready to retire.”

In the meantime, though, Bruederle says he’s lucky to make $20 a day.

 

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Source : http://wfpl.org/one-downside-to-google-fiber-the-demise-of-the-few-remaining-video-stores/

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