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

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Massive film collection from the former Mondo Kim's is heading to Alamo Drafthouse downtown

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.) 

Anyway! This collection is returning to NYC. 

According to published reports and press releases, Alamo Drafthouse has said its working with founder Yongman Kim to bring his collection to the recently opened Lower Manhattan location (28 Liberty St.). 

Here's part of the press release:
After a twelve year and 9,000 mile odyssey that included a trip to Italy and back, the Kim’s Video collection is now back where it belongs — in New York City. It will be permanently housed and available for rental at Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan.
Alamo is expected to reveal more about the rental system later next week. 

The last Kim's, at 124 First Ave., closed in the summer of 2014.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gym taking over part of the former Mondo Kim's space on St. Mark's

Signage arrived on Monday for the newest tenant at 6 St. Mark's Place — Nimble Fitness.

They'll be taking the space above Barcade that had been on the market for months.

Here's more about what Nimbler offers via their website:

We bridge the gap between physical therapy and functional strength through movement. At Nimble you’ll work with a team of dedicated professionals that are passionate about helping you achieve success through an integrated training approach.

Previously, before the quick succession of ground-floor restaurants, No. 6 was home to Mondo Kim's ... and going back ... No. 6 was first, starting in 1913, home to the Saint Marks Russian and Turkish Baths ... which, in 1979, became the New Saint Marks Baths, the gay bathhouse (purportedly the largest one in the world) that the city eventually closed in 1985 during the AIDS epidemic.

Also, in 1914, The Modern School — "an anarchist school with Emma Goldman on the board," according to NY Songlines — had space in the building.

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)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So whatever happened to Mondo Kim's extensive video and DVD collection?

After Mondo Kim's closed on St. Mark's Place in December 2008, the massive collection of some 60,000 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 ... anyway, seemed like an interesting idea... especially since no one around here wanted the collection. (Here was Mr. Kim's public offer.)

So. Some four years later, whatever happened to all this? In an extensive piece at the Village Voice this week, Karina Longworth investigated.

"Nothing is going on with those videos. All the videos are rotting in a Salemi room in mice shit," one source there lamented.

Ugh. While the situation turns out not to be quite that dire, the collection's future still seems unresolved.

You can read the whole piece here for all the details.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Tofu House sign helps set St. Mark's Place signage record

Back on Aug. 1, we pointed out that the NY Tofu House was the latest eatery to give the former Mondo Kim's space a whirl on St. Mark's Place... And the tofuers have added signage...

One more sign here and workers will need to reinforce the structure.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Latest taker for former Mondo Kim's — NYC Tofu House

Cafe Hanover quickly flamed out at the former Mondo Kim's space on St. Mark's Place ... Now something called NYC Tofu House is ready to give the place a whirl...

Last we looked, the rent here for the two levels was an amazing $50,000 a month. That's a lot of tofu.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cafe Hanover's asking price: $50,000 per month

Cafe Hanover quickly flamed out at the former Mondo Kim's space on St. Mark's Place... here's one possible reason: The rent for the two levels here is $50,000 a month... For lease signs are up now on the front doors...

I looked at the listing online:

Size: Ground Floor (3,000 Rsf), Plus Full Basement (3,000 Rsf) Term: 5-19 Year Sublease Rent: $33,750 Per Month No Key Money! Fully Equipped Restaurant/Deli In One Of The Busiest Streets. Basement Includes A Fully Equipped Kitchen, Including Hood, Venting, Modern Ovens, Huge Walk-Ins, And New Structural Beams. Leased At $135 Psf, Or $33,750 Per Month. Optional 2nd Floor Lounge/Bar With Operating 4 Am Liquor License. 2nd Floor (3,000 Rsf) @ $80 Psf, Or $20,000 Per Month. Total Space, Consisting Of Ground Floor (3,000 Rsf), 2nd Floor (3,000 Rsf) And Basement (3,000 Rsf), Asking $50,000 Per Month

And, not until I took the photos above, did I ever realize there was some place called JD's Bar on the second floor...

And where exactly is 2U (U2) Karaoke in this funhouse?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

That was fast: Cafe Hanover on the market after five months in business

Back in the heady days of June, Cafe Hanover owners celebrated their grand opening on St. Mark's Place in the former Mondo Kim's space.

In a ceremony worthy of a funeral...

A few seizures here and there... and today, the space is now for rent...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cafe Hanover will now open on [ ]

Way back in like December, we (citizens of the East Village) were promised that the Cafe Hanover — the gourmet deli portion of the mammoth three-story karaoke/billiards/gourmet deli palace at the former Mondo Kim's on St. Mark's Place — would open on Dec. 18.... though, a sign is covering up the 18....

...given that the 12 is past due too, someone may as cover that up as well....

Previously on EV Grieve:
2U (or U2) Karaoke is now open on St. Mark's Place; Hanover Cafe coming soon

Monday, December 21, 2009

More signs for U2/2U perhaps?

At the mammoth three-story karaoke/billiards/gourmet deli palace Friday afternoon, when the Cafe Hanover was supposed to open. It was still not open as of yesterday.

Previously on EV Grieve:
2U (or U2) Karaoke is now open on St. Mark's Place; Hanover Cafe coming soon

Monday, November 30, 2009

2U (or U2) Karaoke is now open on St. Mark's Place; Hanover Cafe coming soon

All sorts of things happening at the former Mondo Kim's on St. Mark's between Third Avenue and Second Avenue...

The karaoke portion of this new B&T empire opened over the weekend...

The folks behind Hanover Cafe are also part of the World's Fare Market at Citi Field.

Previously hereabouts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nothing compares 2 U?: St Mark's karaoke/billiards/gourmet deli palace gets a sign

That mammoth three-story karaoke/billiards/gourmet deli palace, 2 U Karaoke Lounge Suites at the former Mondo Kim's space on St. Mark's, has unveiled its new signage...

...and it's rather difficult to read...looks like some rejected concepts from U2's PopLife tour...

Previously on EV Grieve:
What we now know about the karaoke empire on St. Mark's Place

Coming soon: A gourmet deli to go with your karaoke on St. Mark's Place

Karaoke taking over Mondo Kim's space

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What we now know about the karaoke empire on St. Mark's Place

On July 11, we pointed out the new "coming soon karaoke lounge suites" signs on the former Mondo Kim's space at 6 St. Mark's Place. Then came the signs telling that a gourmet deli would share this spot.

And now?


So, according to the signs on the door, the gourmet deli is in the basement...billiards on one...housewares on 2 (OK, OK)...presumably the karaoke will take up the rest of the building.


Oh, and the owners will go before the SLA & DCA Licensing Committee again on Sept. 14. They were already turned down for a liquor license in March, as Eater reported.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coming soon: A gourmet deli to go with your karaoke on St. Mark's Place

I wondered how the karaoke joint on St. Marks's at the former home of Mondo Kim's would fill up all that space...

According to plans on the door, we may be in for a gourmet deli.

Seems to make sense. There's already another karaoke place across the street... might as well have another gourmet deli like the one across the street to match...

Previously on EV Grieve:
Karaoke taking over Mondo Kim's space

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend repeat: Karaoke taking over Mondo Kim's space

I orginally posted this Saturday afternoon.

For further reading on Mondo Kim's.

And thanks to Gothamist for picking up the story Saturday. I liked what Billy Parker had to say:

The space once belonging to Mondo Kim's record and video store on St. Marks Place is going to be opening as a new karaoke joint for the thousands of bridge and tunnelers who desperately need an alternative to Sing Sing across the street.

And I never did find naming a karaoke place after a maximum security prison all that cute.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Karaoke taking over Mondo Kim's space

We've all been curious what would take over this enormous space on St. Mark's between Third Avenue and Second Avenue since Jeremiah broke the news that Mondo Kim's was leaving...