We took a trip to Pennsylvania on Saturday, hunting for more old video stores. My heavy foot shaved an hour from what should’ve been a 3+ hour drive, but it was still a long day on the road.
The itinerary led us through parts of Pennsylvania that were only suburban in a borderline way. As someone who previously only knew the state for whatever was in Philly, it was so cool to see the smaller, quirkier towns, which felt trapped in the past in all the best ways.
Our first stop was Heights-Terrace Video, in Hazleton.
I don’t know when it opened, but it’s obviously been around for longer than some of you have.
Even though Heights-Terrace was merely the fifth old video store we’d found in two months, it had a charm all its own. The drive was so worth it!
I didn’t catch the owner’s name (sorry, sir), but he was nice enough to let me take as many photos as I wanted, which in this case turned out to be 374.
I’m just as excited by the decor in these video stores as the actual stock. Heights-Terrace was loaded with treasures, including everything from a 1989 Batman display to a Mountain Dew Pitch Black cooler. The owner didn’t seem interested in selling his oversized tchotchkes, so I settled for photos, and later, poetry.
While I’d assume that his DVD and Blu-ray rentals keep the boat afloat, the store was still loaded with VHS tapes. I mean seriously loaded. We were in there for close to an hour, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface.
The ambiance was just perfect. The popcorn machine made everything smell like the movies, and his radio — set to whatever Hazleton station plays the most ‘80s cock rock — guaranteed the precise right audio.
You really felt the history in this place. Had I lived in Hazleton when I was 12 or 13, it would’ve been my second home. Between the candy and the popcorn and the owner’s super cute dog, I could’ve killed half an afternoon before I even remembered to rent a movie.
From what I could tell, the tape collection was top notch. Lots of common stuff, but plenty of rares, too. I shot a quick video of part of the store, but it only suggests the library’s depth in an abstract way. Trust me, there were serious goodies in here.
I can’t rent tapes from a store that’s hours away, so I was only interested in direct sales. He only had one or two shelves lined with tapes for sale, but there were some killer titles in the mix.
I mean, Critters 3. C’mon.
Since I brag when I get a deal, I suppose it’s only fair that I admit when I don’t: The tapes shown in that second photo were $2.50 a pop. Hardly cheap, but still cheaper than eBay when you factor shipping.
I guess I could’ve left a few of them behind, but I considered the extra dough payment for being allowed to treat someone’s private store like a runway model.
These were all true rental copies, by the way. I know this because only the empty boxes were on display, and the owner then had to fish the actual tapes from their plastic cases behind the counter.
Nothing I grabbed is particularly hard to find, but getting to see a place like Heights-Terrace Video *in 2017* is incredibly rare. That’s what this trip was really about.
The day was not done. Our next stop was another video store in a completely different part of Pennsylvania, but I’ll save that story for another day. Maybe tomorrow!
In the meantime, here are my four previous Video Store Adventures: