Showing posts with label Kim's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kim's. Show all posts

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Kim's Video, storied film and music retailer in the East Village, gets the documentary treatment

Kim's Video, which had an 18-year-run in the East Village, is the subject of a new documentary set to debut at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Some background first. After the multi-level Mondo Kim's closed at 6 St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue in December 2008, the shop's massive collection of 50,000-plus tapes and DVDs were shipped off to a town in Sicily, as Jeremiah Moss first noted

The plans called for "a Never-ending Festival — a 24-hour projection of up to 10 films at once for the foreseeable future ... and, eventually, the conversion of all Kim's VHS films to DVDs to ensure their preservation." 

And eventually, the plan was for Kim's members to have access to digitized versions of all these films, an assortment of cult classics and hard-to-find treasures. (Didn't go so well in Italy.) 

So Variety has the scoop on the doc, directed by award-winning filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. 
"Kim’s Video" follows modern-day cinephile and filmmaker David Redmon on a quixotic quest to track down the whereabouts of the massive video collection of the now-defunct Kim's Video, an iconic NYC video rental store with more than 55,000 beloved and rare movies. 
More plot! 
Playing with the forms and tropes of cinema, David's bizarre and increasingly obsessive quest takes him to Sicily, where he becomes entangled in a web of local politics, and to South Korea, where he tracks down the enigmatic Mr. Kim in the hope of influencing the collection's future. 

"Kim’s Video" will open the Sundance Film Festival's NEXT section in January.

The Kim's empire had a modest start in Yongman Kim's dry-cleaning business at 99 Avenue A in 1986 ... the last Kim's Video & Music closed in 2014.   

The massive collection of DVDs and videos from Kim's Video is now available to rent from the Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan. (Background on all this here.)

Previously on EV Grieve:

Friday, January 21, 2022

Kim's Video lives on with 'Staff Picks' at Metrograph

Metrograph is honoring one of the greatest places you loved to hate in a new series titled "Staff Picks: Kim's Video," which gets underway today (Friday!).

Cutting and pasting the entire description right here:
The Kim’s Video empire started out in an enterprising immigrant hustler’s East Village laundromat on Avenue A, a joint that ran a dodgy sideline renting VHS tapes out of cardboard boxes and laundry baskets. It became a legendary New York City institution — a discount film school, with outlets as far as exotic Jersey City and a multi-story flagship located in a former bathhouse on St. Mark’s Place, famous for cranky behind-the-counter attitudes, dismal wages, and a mind-boggling selection. 

After the closing of its final location in 2014, Kim’s faded into the mists of legend: an exceptional place, but also representative of a broader international video store culture that’s long hovered on the brink of extinction.

Kim’s is gone but far from forgotten, and so Metrograph salutes the esoteric eclecticism of Kim’s Video with a series made up of film selections and introductions by a number of former store clerks who’ve gone on to better things still branded for life by their time, as well as the mysterious Mr. Kim himself. 

Staff Picks will continue throughout 2022, each month featuring selections that celebrate the small and specialty video stores, independent theatres, and community hubs where passionate film lovers gather. Titles include selections by Isabel Gillies, Lorry Kikta, Ralph McKay, Alex Ross Perry, Sean Price Williams, Mr. Kim, and more.
Find out more about the series and ticket info here. Metrograph is at 7 Ludlow St. just above Canal.

And some flashbacking for you, courtesy of ... here's a look at Kim's Video when it was at 85 Avenue A (now Somtum Der) between Fifth Street and Sixth Street (click on the image for a bigger view!)
Kim's on A closed in the summer of 2004. 

And! Memories!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A moment with Youngman Kim outside the recently shuttered Kim's Video & Music

Tonight around 7, Bill the Libertarian Anarchist spotted Youngman Kim outside the recently shuttered Kim's Video & Music. The store's founder was there to drop off the keys to the broker.

A listing for the space at 124 First Ave. between East Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place had noted the following: "Ideal for Bank, 711, Starbucks, Cafe, Deli, Bakery ASKING $16,500 month Security 4 months Lease term 5 to 10 years." (That listing is no longer active.)

Meanwhile, Kim said tonight that he wants to start a new venture in the East Village. He opened his first video store on Avenue A in 1987. (Read more history of Kim's here.)

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] A really bad sign outside Kim's Video & Music on First Avenue (31 comments)

More about the closure of Kim's: 'We are NOT closing because record stores are dying'

Listing for Kim's Video says space is 'ideal for Bank, 711, Starbucks'

Deeper discounts at Kim's as closing countdown continues

On the end of Kim's

Monday, August 25, 2014

On the end of Kim's

Editor's note: The last of the Kim's closes for good today at 124 First Ave.

By Kelly Sebastian

As any job-hunting 19-year-old in New York City might, I became a bike messenger. Yes, one of those. On a soggy summer day, fate threw me a delivery in the Empire State Building. It felt cool to have this job; that said, it also felt completely fucked up when I walked out of the building to find my bike … missing. Through a crackly-sounding payphone my delivery dispatcher told me to take the rest of the day off. I was sad. I was unemployed.

With my head hung low I began an aimless walk away from Midtown hell, eventually ending up on St. Mark's Place in the East Village. After passing the Astor Place cube and crossing over Third Avenue I spotted that unforgettable purple and yellow sign with it's aggressively playful font. Kim's. I needed a dose of salvation from my shitty day and, as I was beginning my flirt with filmmaking, I decided to get lost in something I loved. In that beauty … film. On the third floor of 6 St. Mark's, the video rental floor — as I was reading VHS sleeve after VHS sleeve, getting lost in the cover art and other people's stories — a clerk from behind the counter asked if I needed help. I told him about my stolen bike, he told me he was a vegan and the next day I started a job a Kim's. If you loved film, you knew Kim's. One word: KIM'S. It was THE place.


I realize now how lucky I was to have been a part of the experience of Kim's, the Kim's culture and the Kim's community. Kim's stores were an anomaly in the cluster of chain-store clutter with a curated collection of film (and music) way beyond the underground. I worked at a destination. A spot people went to discover films, to talk about films (with clerks or other customers). A place where travelers who had heard of the legendary stock, would pop in for a look, as if they were admiring a piece of high art in a gallery.

Working there on occasion I would chance a glance of the mastermind himself standing at the other end of our video rentals floor, beyond the maze of his meticulously categorized collection. I would see Yongman Kim, buttoned up, well-dressed in a suit with arms folded and his smiling eyes observing from a distance — watching his masterpiece perform. I always wondered if he did this at all his store locations. Mr. Kim was passionate about the art of film and the art of business with the spirit of a risk taker having wild ideas from first renting movies out of his original laundry cleaning store to that very brief third floor Smoke Cafe. It's hard to explain Kim's to the plugged-in youth or non-film'centric folks, you just had to have been there.

Kim's was my film school and I know many others could claim this same core-curriculum. The breakdown of cinema history — organized by genre, by sub-genres, by niche and Country, by decade and Director — was any cinephile's dream. Sure, we carried mainstream flicks, but the majority of Kim's customers would be waiting for the newest Herzog film to be released. I would come to understand any given Director's journey by working my way through their catalog. From Godard to Lee, Varda to Linklater. Our organization style could often receive heated friction from our customers. Some loved to complain that True Romance should be excluded from Tarantino's section because he only wrote the screenplay. My out? The sale of that script gave us Reservoir Dogs. We all had our tiffs. I was forever annoyed that Bigelow didn't have her own section yet and that Hitchcock was shelved with American Directors. I wonder who among the contemporary crop of Directors, film movements and episodics would have enough titles and thunder to secure their own tag. The Dardenne Brothers, both Anderson(s), Lisa Cholodenko - surely. Mumblecore and "Peep Show" would have end caps. Orange is the New Black would be in Cult filed under "Women in Prison" alongside Caged Heat.

[Image via]

Being a video store clerk in the East Village was the most interesting public-facing job I would ever make a buck from. Through a customer's rental selection, us clerks got to know our clientele. We got to know your taste in film and what your girlfriend hated. Your Saturday night suggestions came from me, a person, not an algorithm or paid suggestion. A place in time before the Internet had touched and tagged every spec of existence. There was no IMDB — just a clerk who, when you attempted to rent Almost Famous, asked if you'd seen Crudup in Grind or Without Limits.

Soon enough you'd be tossed down a rabbit hole that took you from Crudup to Prefontaine to Leto to Requim for a Dream to Aronofsky to Connelly, which led you back to Crudup, who she shared the screen with in a beautiful movie called Waking the Dead. Remember the times you dashed to Kim's right after work on a Friday night to grab that new release but shit, all the copies were already rented. You instead ended up with the obvious double-feature of La Jette and 12 Monkeys. Or how about that time you realized it was a cinema verite night with Kopple after all. It was a time when the Criterion Collection was just becoming the original viral video everyone wanted to see with, GASP — a commentary track (a groundbreaking idea at the time). Also, a place in a time where you got a same-day porn rental for a dollar and would return the tape warm.

Our daily crowd resembled the poster art for Rock 'n Roll High School. From behind that melamine purple counter four clerks faced a line of genuinely nice folks, sarcastic pot-heads, painfully shy people, everyday assholes, hardcore film nerds and cinema elitists alike. We served established directors, actors and all the pivotal crew members who made film, and really any art, come to life. Oh, and of course those aspiring filmmakers too. We served the ever-changing street kids staying in the rehab facility across the street and the die-hards who came back week after week checking to see if our copy of Two Lane Blacktop had been repaired. At Kim's your celebrity status didn't matter, it was more about if you were renting Van Sant's Ma La Noche.

Of all the eclectic renters there was only one customer who could get me to place any title on hold for him, and he was the mightiest of film aficionados — a guy named Dukkor. Standing high at 6'4", skinny as a beanpole, tucked in a trench coat with his shoulder length, and always wet, jet black hair. Dukkor. An older, ageless man drenched in a cologne called tobacco. Dukkor gave me Dogme 95. When he learned that I was binge watching Von Trier titles he said "Kelly, you MUST watch The Celebration tonight. Not tomorrow but tonight, so that we can discuss Dogme 95 tomorrow." Dukkor, a man with a double-digit membership number, The Duke of all film knowledge, deeper that any Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide.

Our third floor staff was also a cast of characters. There was Matt, Mike (the vegan), Maria, Mike B., Mike P., Sam, Fred, Jeff and other floor employees like Aurelio on the music floor, Igor on the sales floor and Kenny in security. If you knew Mondo Kim's in the late 90s to the early oughts then you know these people. They influenced you and you influenced us. Sure the rumors of rude clerks is true. Do you know how many rude customers we had to deal with? It's fine, we learned to laugh it off and I hope you have too. Maybe I recommended Rosemary's Baby to a pregnant woman; perhaps I ushered a student to the Nick Zedd section when they asked for Citizen Kane in order to fulfill a homework assignment; and yeah, I totally refused to stop watching Poor Cow on our in-store television so a customer could rent it.

Matt, my first manager at Kim's, once told me that our rental floor at Mondo was the East Village's own "Town Hall." So true. Before neighborhood blogs, word on the street, like the lineup of hardcore bands playing at Matinee Sundays at CBGB's, the shuttering of Coney Island High, and Dojo's Soy Burger seventy-five-cent increase, traveled via Kim's. Neighborhood people would come and go. Some never to be seen again. That guy Daniel, for example, was in some band called Interpol who hit the ground running. Oh, and that really nice dude Zoriah, who worked across the street at Joe's CDs, left the city to pursue war photography. The news came through Mondo Kim's doors and echoed from there forward, out into the world. Or at least through the East Village.

I quit my gig at Kim's twice. First, to start working in production and to make more films and projects of my own. The second time I left was for good — a bittersweet exit to again work deeper in the film industry while also taking a job building and curating a new video shop in that triangle below canal — Tribeca Video. I left to apply all my Kim's knowledge and education elsewhere. Over the years I'd stop in to various Kim's locations, an alumni of sorts, to say hi to whoever was still working there and hello to the new round of clerks. I would dig through the genres, see what was new and check on that copy of Two Lane Blacktop.


Now with the heartbreaking news of the final location closing today, I felt it time to share my little slice of the legend that is Kim's. There are endless rumors about the various Kim's locations closing one by one. Was it the skyscraper high rent hikes or was it another case of the Internet slamming it's tsunami of instant gratification down on the slower, organic avenues? Perhaps the Feds were circling back to make another bust on suspected bootlegs. When Mondo Kim's closed the complete rental collection flew off to Sicily after a deal was struck to keep the collection available to all Kim's members. But how do we access that portal? What came of that deal? Could there be a grand dream allowing access of the complete collection online?

Kim's is a cherished experience. One that is shared by all who knew it. When I look inside my memory files I see Mondo's third floor, its physical layout of black wire racks crammed with boxes, precisely labeled - the big purple and yellow genre signs — the maze in all its curated splendor. A place and a time I sadly miss. My years spent at Kim's deeply influenced the person I am today and anyone that new Kim's surely has this personal sentiment as well. Kim's gave us a lot of things, including a neighborhood go-to, a cultural phenomenon, and a film school education for the taking. Thanks, Mr. Kim.

Kelly Sebastian is a former video store clerk at Mondo Kim's (@kel_sebastian)

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] A really bad sign outside Kim's Video & Music on First Avenue (31 comments)

Monday, July 28, 2014

On the closing of Kim's and the death of a 'downtown aesthetic'

[EVG photo from last week]

Kim's received the Sunday New York Times Memorial treatment with the somber headline "Passing of a Video Store and a Downtown Aesthetic." (The subhead: "Kim's Video Closes and a Village Sensibility Dies.")

As we first reported on April 21, owner Yongman Kim is closing the last of the Kim's here at 124 First Ave. ... perhaps as early as this week ... or into August.

The article includes thoughts from Richard Hell, Alexandre Rockwell and Darren Aronofsky, among others.

To the Times:

Pressed by higher rents, Mr. Kim said, he plans to close the First Avenue store at the end of next month, 27 years after he opened the first one, on Avenue A, in 1987. But this is more than a story of rising rents and the disruption wrought by digital streaming. It’s the tale of a downtown culture now largely lost, one in which clerks and creative types mingled, influencing one another and the scene as well.


Mr. Kim is taking business classes and plans to return with the Kim’s brand in some way. He’s also thinking of moving back to the Lower East Side from New Jersey, where he now lives.

He’d be returning to a different downtown.

“Manhattan in the 21st century is this Disneyland for the superrich,” Mr. Hell said, even though he cautioned against romanticizing the past. “New York in the ’70s was more like the reality of human existence. And you need to know what the world is really like to make good art.”

Speaking of a downtown aesthetic, I knew this guy who would go in the Avenue A location and ask for the worst movies ever made, like "Leonard Part 6," just to see how annoyed the clerks would get.

And here's a bonus photo from the EVG collection showing the back door at the First Avenue Kim's that leads out to ...

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] A really bad sign outside Kim's Video & Music on First Avenue (31 comments)

Source: Kim's staff looking for ways to save their store

More about the closure of Kim's: 'We are NOT closing because record stores are dying'

Listing for Kim's Video says space is 'ideal for Bank, 711, Starbucks'

Deeper discounts at Kim's as closing countdown continues

Friday, May 16, 2014

Listing for Kim's Video says space is 'ideal for Bank, 711, Starbucks'

[Photo from April 21 by Williams Klayer]

Oh, really?

The listing for Kim's arrived at Streeteasy yesterday... and it's doozy:

124 First Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets Store 1820 SF approximately- plus basement storage / office East side of 1st Avenue Ideal for Bank, 711, Starbucks, Cafe, Deli, Bakery ASKING $16,500 month Security 4 months Lease term 5 to 10 years.

As we first reported on April 21, Kim's Video and Music is closing.

In a letter to Kim's patrons, management wrote:

The point is, and you should be aware, that we are NOT closing because record stores are dying, business is bad, it's not like it used to be and oh terrible world. Not at all. The actual reason for our closing is that the lease is up in July and the rent is being raised to an amount we simply can't work with.

The space was previously home to the great Kurowycky Meat Products, which closed in the summer of 2007. The Kurowycky family still owns the building... and a reliable source tells us that a family member who now lives in the South is calling the shots on the rent.

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] A really bad sign outside Kim's Video & Music on First Avenue (31 comments)

Source: Kim's staff looking for ways to save their store

More about the closure of Kim's: 'We are NOT closing because record stores are dying'

Monday, April 28, 2014

More about the closure of Kim's: 'We are NOT closing because record stores are dying'

[Photo from last Monday by Williams Klayer]

As we first reported last Monday, Kim's Video and Music is closing soon at 124 First Ave. The following email went out this past weekend to the Kim's faithful…

If you haven't heard already, earlier this week we announced that Kim's Video & Music, here on 1st Ave, will be closing its doors this July. Business here has been steady and our Record Store Day last Saturday was easily the best yet with new and old customers flooding the store for 200+ exclusive releases. The point is, and you should be aware, that we are NOT closing because record stores are dying, business is bad, it's not like it used to be and oh terrible world. Not at all. The actual reason for our closing is that the lease is up in July and the rent is being raised to an amount we simply can't work with. It's an unfortunate situation and we really, really appreciate all the positive vibes and eulogizing that has been sent our way this week. We are hopeful that a new Kim's can be erected this summer, (likely at a smaller location), and we are in the process of exploring that possibility. Until then, please stop in at 124 1st Ave (between St. Marks/7th) to say hi and take advantage of our closing sale. ALL Music & Video is 30% off.

This will be the last New Music Newsletter until the foreseeable future. Kim's WILL be stocking New Releases as they come out until we close ... Other than that, thank you for your continuing support and business over the years and hopefully we'll see you at a new (and improved) Kim's later this year.

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] A really bad sign outside Kim's Video & Music on First Avenue (31 comments)

Source: Kim's staff looking for ways to save their store

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Record Store Day under way

And we're off... noticed a few people waiting in line at Kim's on First Avenue a little bit ago...

Here's the Record Store Day Web site.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Feels as if we just wrote a post like this

In case you missed the news, Kim's Video at 89 Christopher St. in the West Village is closing June. 30. I swung by the other day. New videos are 70 percent off; former rental DVDs are going for $5.99. It's pretty picked over, but there are a few gems here and there. The First Avenue branch is now the last Kim's left in the city.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chipping away at Kim's

Workers continue to dismantle the former Mondo Kim's on St. Mark's...




Wonder how much longer the cover art for the Noisettes and Goldfrapp will stay up there...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The end is near

On Tuesday, Jeremiah provided a thorough update on the fate of Mondo Kim's on St. Mark's. Yesterday, someone representing Kim's took to the streets to spread the word of the sale. At Seventh Street and Avenue A.