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Four Star Video Heaven confirms new location on Gilman Street

The long-running video store has to vacate its current spot by November 30.

The long-running video store has to vacate its current spot by November 30.

Four Star Video Heaven announced on Monday that it will move to a new location at 459 West Gilman Street, after several months of uncertainty about the store’s future. Co-owner Lewis Peterson says the store’s lease at its current location, 449 State Street, ends on November 30, and the re-opening date on Gilman will depend on how much help he can recruit for the move.

“We’re looking to have everything out before then and a little extra time to clean up,” Peterson says.

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Moving will let Four Star cut down on one of its biggest financial burdens—rents in an ever more expensive and gentrified downtown Madison—while staying in the State Street area, where it’s been since opening in 1985, first on North Henry Street and then moving in 2011 to its current spot. At the same time, Peterson and a mostly volunteer team will be figuring out a new model for keeping alive an increasingly rare but all the more essential resource that provides access to a deep collection of films, many of them otherwise hard to find.

The new location will be smaller, about 1,400 square feet, compared to the 2,300-square-foot, two-story location Four Star occupies now. But the location on Gilman Street will actually comprise two separate rooms, one of which could potentially become a dedicated streaming room in the future. Peterson is confident that Four Star’s collection of about 20,000 titles can still fit.

“I think will be workable in terms of displaying the collection,” he says. “We’re changing our rental system slightly so that we won’t have two boxes on the shelf for every title, just one.”

This spring, Four Star started looking for a buyer, as Peterson and his co-owners (who bought the store from its previous owners in 2014) looked for an out. They didn’t get any worthwhile offers for the store or its collection, but several customers expressed interest in helping take the business into its next phase. A crowdfunding campaign got off to a shaky start, and for a brief period Peterson was almost ready to call it a day. But an anonymous investor stepped in to help, and the store has hosted several benefit screenings over the past couple of months, at locations including Robinia Courtyard and Genna’s Lounge. Peterson says he’d like the store to host more screenings starting early next year, and perhaps make those events a more regular part of Four Star’s business model. 

“I’m going to be putting in a lot of hours in the next few months just training people in and figuring out logistics, but the goal is to get a dedicated enough group of volunteers that the store can run on a volunteer basis, more people can feel directly involved and invested and we can grow both community awareness and the size of the collection we’re offering to the public,” Peterson says.

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