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Vidiots Leaving Santa Monica  

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

January 25, 2017 -- For more than 30 years, film buffs and the curious have been coming to Vidiots on Pico Boulevard off Third Street in Santa Monica to find a wide variety of titles, many available nowhere else.

But that era will come to an end February 15 when Vidiots closes its Santa Monica shop and searches for a new home “in a more central location with unlimited potential,” the nonprofit Vidiots Foundation announced Tuesday.

The foundation blamed the “rising costs” of operating in Santa Monica for the decision.

“Although leaving our home of over 30 years will be bittersweet, we are elated that Vidiots Foundation’s next chapter will ensure the preservation and growth of our vast film collection,” Vidiots founders Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber said in a joint statement.

They continued, “We look forward to welcoming a new community and to reuniting with our long-standing customers and dedicated members in a new home!”

The foundation said it has targeted 2018 for its reopening in a “widely accessible Los Angeles location.” Its library of more than 50,000 titles will be “held in safe storage” during the hiatus.

Annapurna Pictures, the production company headed by multi-billionaire Larry Ellison’s daughter Megan that saved Vidiots from closure in 2015 with a last-minute donation, will support the store during the transition.

This support will include an initial donation and “sustaining contributions” for three years “to help Vidiots establish and run their new location.”

Maggie Mackay, executive director of the foundation, said, “I’m thrilled the Vidiots legacy will continue, and that the singular library Patty and Cathy have built will remain a resource for all of Los Angeles and beyond.

Vidiots was founded in 1985 by two friends with 800 VHS tapes and a small amount of cash. It soon caught on and built a loyal client base and an extensive library in a different time when a visit to the video store was a regular part of life.

The store expanded its operation in 2010 with the opening of the Annex that offers space for “film appreciation and production seminars” as well as other events.

But the rise of streaming services and other entertainment options made the business difficult to sustain in recent years. Vidiots began to transition into a nonprofit organization for survival.

Vidiots announced in January 2015 that it would close later in the year. This triggered an outpouring of emotion in the Los Angeles area and beyond.

Before the month was over, Vidiots announced it had a new lifeline due to a major donation from Annapurna Pictures and some other supporters.

Since that time, the store has added monthly screenings and other programs to its operation (“Santa Monica’s Vidiots Emerges with New Programs, Broader Vision,” September 30, 2015).

People reacted to the latest news on Vidiots’ Facebook page with a mixture of disappointment that it would be leaving Santa Monica and pleasure that this was not the absolute end as was the fear in 2015.

“I just rented the other day from there to try to keep it alive,” one person posted on Vidiots’ Facebook page. “It is so easy to just stream, but there are many titles that aren't available on stream."

He continued, "And [there is] just the feeling of browsing through a physical store, and the personalities behind the counter. Hopefully they'll still find a lower-rent home on the Westside.”

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