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Four Star Video Heaven breaks in its new space

Saturday, March 7, Four Star Video Heaven (459 W. Gilman St.) 6 to 10 p.m. Info

Madison’s most formidable video-rental source, Four Star Video Heaven, spent much of 2019 bouncing through all sorts of doubts and ups and downs. Founded in 1985, Four Star has valiantly stuck it out in an industry that has put a tough economic squeeze on the whole idea of video stores, while the convenient but fickle experience of streaming services demonstrated why movie lovers need places that lovingly build up their collections and actually hold onto things for the long haul. Last April Four Star cut back its hours, then went up for sale, as a group of employee-owners who took over in 2014 understandably sought an out from the grueling pressures of running an underdog business. One of them, Lewis Peterson, decided to solider on. With help from some customer-volunteers and an anonymous backer, the store moved into a new location at 459 West Gilman Street—smaller, but about half the rent, which means Four Star can finally breathe a little easier. And the store’s collection of more than 20,000 titles still fits.

Peterson and crew are up and running, with a little more unpacking left to do. Four Star will celebrate its defiant survival and hopefully kick off a fruitful chapter with this Saturday’s grand re-opening party, featuring wide-ranging DJ sets from DJ Hanna of the TV Dinner DJs crew and Dan Woodman, aka Cult House Sound. Four Star will be offering some complimentary drinks, as well as food from Umami. Attendees are also encouraged to browse and rent some DVDs.

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“We’re pretty well on our way to getting it how we would like it to be on a permanent basis,” Peterson says. “We’re getting more traction from people who didn’t realize we were still around, and people who just stopped coming in for one reason or another are coming back as well.” One of the advantages of the new space is a separate room where Peterson hopes to hold some in-store screenings and perhaps other events, building on the success of the benefit screenings Four Star held at Robinia Courtyard and Genna’s last year. The store’s deep collection and the team’s love for everything from prestige cinema to outrageous trash will come in handy with that. Help them break in the space—after all these years and especially after this past year, Four Star deserves it.

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