End of an Era

Say Goodbye to Acme Video

The credits roll on Providence's last bastion of video store culture

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With the closing of Acme Video our city has lost something truly unique. More than just an actual, factual, brick-and-mortar video store, more than just a portal into film history, Acme was a piece of history itself.

It was a living artifact. It was the one place left in the city where everyone could go and engage with movies the way we did before on-demand services. There’s something about being there, looking at and touching physical movie packaging, about the anticipation on the ride back home to watch whatever you’d rented. The first movie I ever rented from Acme Video was Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime masterpiece, Akira. There were lots after that and I remember almost all of them, because going there was always an experience.

Ralph Goudreau, Acme’s owner, was the gatekeeper, and his authority and guidance in navigating the wild, unpredictable world of movies was just as important as the movies themselves. I didn’t asked for his advice nearly enough, and I regret that now. Call it Streamer’s Remorse. The Redbox Blues.

Our movie watching options are legion and ever growing, but that physical experience of being there, browsing and interacting with a dude who cares so much about film is really what’s lost. Acme made watching movies at home feel significant. It all made the experience real in a way that an ever-growing Netflix queue never will.

Do you have any fond memories of Acme Video? Share them with us below.

Comments

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Brentl

This really bums me out, man.

Thursday, January 9, 2014
nathanlees

I returned a vhs rental to ACME, in the summer of 1995, and moved to Portland, OR. I stepped back inside ACME in the spring of 2013, and they still had my account in their database. Just had to update my address and debit info. :) I will miss ACME. Good lucj, Ralph.

Friday, January 10, 2014
andrewhlynsky

Acme video was a serious part of my life growing up. I grew up in the neighborhood renting videos a few times a month. The atomic fireballs kept me coming back as a kid, and the free condoms at the register definitely helped me stay safe as a teenager.

Thank you!

Friday, January 10, 2014
DavidAM500

I'm a recent arrival to Providence, but Acme always made me feel I'd made the right choice moving here. I hope that marvelous library of films finds a safe harbor; likewise its keeper.

While doing research for a play about Groucho Marx, I plundered Acme's riches to watch the brothers' complete Filmography. Conversations with Ralph let me know about several films still not available in any form and also several choice nuggets of info online. As always, his guidance was invaluable.

Saturday, January 18, 2014