With iconic Southeast Portland video store's future secure, new goal is to build a movie screen there.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: LYNDSEY HEWITT - Movie Madness' fundraising campaign continues so they can install a movie screen within the store.You've probably already heard, as it's been well covered in local media: one of Portland's last surviving video rental store is being saved from extinction.

(Or if you haven't heard, maybe you're asking instead: "There's still a video rental store in Portland?" Yes, yes there is.)

Indeed, unlike most Blockbusters and Hollywood Videos of the world that have long since died off, casualties of the digital-streaming revolution, (this reporter worked at two video stores prior to becoming a journalist and watched them both go out of business) Movie Madness is still humbly trucking along on its corner on Southeast Belmont Street and 44th Avenue. It dubs itself as the world's most extensive video, DVD and Blu-Ray rental selection.

But its future outlook may not have been so positive if not for Portland's other favorite cinematic hub: Hollywood Theatre.

When Movie Madness owner Mike Clark, 71, announced he was ready to retire, leaving an uncertain future for the shop, Hollywood came to the rescue with a massive Kickstarter campaign to raise $250,000 to purchase Clark's collection of somewhere around 84,000 titles — which Clark says was appraised at $585,000.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hollywood Theatre, what with its cult-like fanbase, was able to raise that in only nine days, at $271,093 with more than 4,000 backers, as of this writing. And now — brace yourselves, movie buffs — they're trying to raise another $100,000 (for a total of $350,000) by Nov. 10 to build a micro-theater within the video store. ("Inception," anyone?)

TRIBUNE PHOTO: LYNDSEY HEWITT - Movie Madness owner Mike Clark now gets to settle into retirement — although he'll be around to give tours of the store."We added a stretch goal for $100,000 that will fund the construction of a screen for Movie Madness, which is a big part of the goal to make it sustainable and have a community focus," says Alison Hallett, director of marketing and community engagement for the Hollywood Theatre.

The theater has been particularly creative with its projects lately; it installed a small theater at Portland International Airport this year.

According to Clark, the micro-theater will go in a portion near the back end of the store, where there'll be a concession stand of sorts installed as well. But that's a ways down the road — Hallett says there's not yet any kind of timeline for the project.

"The idea is, once we take things over, we'll pretty much keep things going as they are to get familiar with the business, to get to know the staff," she says. "And then once we've done the lay of the land a little bit, we need to do some serious thinking about how the space is used and what can be rearranged, so that all needs to happen first."

More good news: Existing employees won't lose their jobs. And would they ever want to leave? There's just something cathartic about spending the day watching your favorite movies between customers and alphabetizing movie returns.

Clark, for his part, will stick around to give tours at the store, including telling the story of how he collected the authentic movie memorabilia on display.

He also plans to pen a book about his adventures working in the film industry prior to owning Movie Madness, as well as about the interesting customers he's encountered over the 26 years he's owned the shop. He was star struck when legendary "Apocalypse Now" and "Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola stopped in the video store recently, following an Oct. 2 show at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

"I couldn't have done it without the support of Portland," Clark says. "I couldn't have found a better buyer. If you love movies, this is the place to be."

Donate to the cause here.

Update: A reader let us know that Impulse Video Store is still up and running in Southwest Portland's Hillsdale neighborhood — so it turns out Movie Madness isn't the only one left.

Lyndsey Hewitt
Reporter, Portland Tribune
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