Catalonia’s oldest video club reborn with in-store café and cinema
Historic Barcelona rental store Video Instan begins new era, adapting the business to changing times
Long gone are the days when video clubs like Blockbuster were synonymous with the high streets of many a self-respecting city or town. With the rise of online streaming and services like Netflix, the humble video club struggled to survive the changing times. Internet killed the video store, but not all of them. The oldest such club in Catalonia and Spain only closed its doors recently on July 12. And now it has already been reborn.
Originally founded 38 years ago, Video Instan has been given a new lease of life at a new location in Barcelona as a café-cum-cinema as well as a rental store. “The video club is already operating at 100%, with about 45,000 films from the catalogue on the shelves and the cafeteria nearly finished,” announced Aurora Depares, daughter of the original founders Jenaro Depares and Aurora Martinez.
A video club with a difference
Now visitors to Video Instan can take in a movie, discuss it over a coffee afterwards and then, before leaving, take home one of the many latest releases or old classics available to rent on DVD. “While it is true that movies are still rented out, this is not enough to maintain the business,” explained Aurora.
A new concept for the historic video club was then born from the desire to survive. Aurora saw the opportunity to bring together “three activities we all like to share” in the same space. And so began the search for a new premises big enough to fit her vision. A campaign to save Video Instan was also launched. More than 40,000 euros contributed by 638 patrons was raised using micro-sponsorship.
The video club reopened its doors on July 18 at its new location on Carrer Viladomat 239 (not too far from its original home on Carrer d’Enric Granados,) still without the cafeteria nor cinema. On Thursday, the bar service was up and running, offering drinks and food to customers, with the cinema expected to be completed at the beginning of September.
According to Aurora, old clients remain faithful to the new Video Instan, even though some have to travel a little further.
“People are beginning to come, and the reception has been very good in the new neighbourhood. We’re getting lots of new clients,” the owner said. The club currently has around 3,000 members. This figure is expected to keep growing now it has set up shop elsewhere, offering more services.
“It seems like people like the idea,” said Aurora stating that she does not believe the video club business is dead. She did say, however, that new consumer habits and digital distribution platforms threaten the old ways of renting or buying a physical copy of a film.
Despite this, she highlighted the extensive catalogue of movies that Video Instan has at its disposal. “If you like cinema, our background is much broader than any platform,” she said, saying that at the club “there are things you would not find elsewhere.”