Skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Missing Kensington Video? Winnie’s Family Plans To Reopen Store

Winnie Hanford has set up a little rental counter inside Kensington Video, wh...

Photo by Angela Carone

Above: Winnie Hanford has set up a little rental counter inside Kensington Video, which is being renovated to reopen in September. Hanford co-owned the store with her husband and son.

The beloved family-owned video rental store that shut down in March now plans to reopen in the fall.

Kensington Video, the shuttered mom-and-pop movie rental store and mecca for film enthusiasts, will reopen its doors with a 21st century overhaul and a juice bar.

Guy Hanford, who owned the store with his parents, said he never wanted to close. But managing a large shop, combined with online competition, became too much for the family.

“Mom and Dad were ready to retire as owners,” Hanford said. His mother, Winnie, a fixture at the store, is 87, and her husband is 88.

Now Hanford will reopen a smaller, leaner operation, using half the space and employing technology.

"The giant step we’re taking is we’re going from the 1940s to 2015," said Hanford, a longtime film buff who persuaded his parents to let him set up a video rental stand in their Hallmark card store in the early '80s. "We didn't even have a cash register back then. We were putting money in a shoebox."

By the time the family shut down the story this past March, they had more than 60,000 members. They were still running a paper operation.

Now Hanford is buying computer tablets and setting up a website.

"We’re going to have computers and iPads. We’re going to have so much technology, but we’re still going to have that personal touch," he said. "That’s not going to be lost. And we’re still going to have my mom."

There's certainly nothing like Winnie on Netflix. She said she's good at picking movies for customers because she gets to know them.

"They tell us where they’ve been on a trip or if they’ve just had a knee operation," Winnie said. "We want to hear all of those things."

A man from Alpine drives in every week for Winnie's recommendations.

"I look at two or three movies a day to make sure I do my homework," said Winnie, who likes documentaries but is also partial to "shoot 'em ups."

When the store closed, Hanford only sold off 2 percent of the inventory.

"I really didn't want to sell the rare titles, the eclectic ones," Hanford said. "If you came up to me and wanted to buy 'Dumb and Dumber,' I might actually pay you to take it, but the other stuff I wanted to hold on to."

When the store officially reopens, it will have more than 65,000 titles available in an online database, Hanford said. The video rental portion of the store will run the length of the space with DVDs on 65-foot-long shelves behind a counter. It will include many of the foreign films and classics for which the store is known.

After customers browse selections online, Hanford will get their DVDs for them. Patrons will no longer wander through overstuffed aisles.

"I'll be getting my exercise," Hanford said.

He'll share space with his nephew's new smoothie and juice bar. The remaining space will have couches and a large screen for showing movies and hosting lectures.

"I want a place where students and independent filmmakers can show their work," Hanford said. "I'll invite people to lecture. Maybe it will be the start of an independent film festival. That's what really excites me."

The fully revamped store will open in September.

In the meantime, Winnie has a small counter set up in the gutted space and is renting some titles to longtime customers and those who wander in off the street. She's there Tuesday through Saturday. She said Sunday is for church, and Monday she'll do the wash. The rest of the week is all about the movies.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.