This ‘last of its kind’ video store is set to close

Sponsors can curate shelves at Naro Expanded Video Archival Library in Norfolk. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Naro Expanded Video Archival Library)
(Southside Daily/Courtesy of Naro Expanded Video Archival Library)

NORFOLK — A video store here believed to be the last of its size on the East Coast and a “neighborhood treasure” is closings its doors by the end of August.

Aug. 25 is the last day Naro Expanded Video Archival Library is open to the public for its farewell celebration, a devastating blow to the community that has continued to support the store over its 30-year history in the city, said Whitney Weireter a former staff member and president of the board of directors.

“The No. 1 question has been ‘why’ from the people who for so long did their part to contribute donations, rent videos regularly, and attend events,” she said.

Home streaming services has had a significant effect on the video industry Weireter said, but one thing loyal Naro customers understood was how much they would be missing if they solely relied on those services.

“We have every one of the movies on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time list,” she said. “There are only a handful of those films on streaming platforms, and certainly no more than a few on one platform at a time.”

Owners Tim Cooper and Linda McGreevy operated the store for about 23 years until 2016 when it became a nonprofit organization and archive library with a collection of more than 42,000 videos.

Despite a grant from the city and successful “Kickstarter” in 2017 and a new community relations program, Weireter said “memberships, revenue, and rentals continued to decline” resulting in an “unsustainable business.”

Now, Weirter said the organization is exploring options to ultimately keep the collection together, intact, and accessible to the community through an entity that “will see its importance and value to the community and culture.”

“The organization is sad we couldn’t do more but none of us sees this as a true end,” she said.

The last day to rent at Naro Expanded Video Archival Library is Aug. 18 with doors closing on the 25th.

Until then, the organization is selling DVD and Blu-Ray merchandise to help cover remaining expenses.

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.