By Stella Stokes
Opening a video store in 2017 may seem like a joke, but a new video store, Shadow Gallery, opened in Old Town Eureka on April 1. After the recent closing of the Eureka Figueiredo’s and the Arcata Spotlight, it is hard to believe that a new video store would open. With all the streaming websites, it seems there is no need for a physical store. For a weird and rural place like Humboldt County, owner Harley Demarest doesn’t believe so.
“We have crappy Internet,” Demarest said. “Streaming isn’t for everybody and a lot of growers don’t have wireless Internet, so they buy movies to bring up in the hills.”
The Shadow Gallery is more than just a video store. Entering inside is like going in a organized garage of memorabilia. There is a diverse collection of books, comic book issues, graphic novel anthologies, vinyl records, band shirts, and video games for Sega Dreamcast to Xbox 360. There is a small section of the store dedicated for gaming. A shelf of various vintage gaming consoles sits next to a TV in front of a couch. Customers can’t check out consoles, but they are welcome to ask to play a game on the consoles in store. There is a large amount of collectable figures, vintage movie posters, collectible Lego sets and other memorabilia throughout the store. The majority of the items are from Demarest’s personal collection.
“It’s been an ongoing collection for about 10 years,” Demarest said. “About three to four years ago, I reached a tipping point in my collection. I had to decide to either sell it or just go further with it.”
The idea of owning a video store, or possibly a comic book store, has been bumping around Demarest’s head for the last 10 years. He created a GoFundMe page to see people’s reactions to the idea of opening a video store and received a lot of support. With help from his friends, they slowly moved Demarest’s collection into the new store. Since the grand opening, the store had steady traffic. On the sunny Friday afternoon, several people came in. Two older women entered and looked at the band shirts. A group of adults went straight to the video game section and one woman bought a figurine from the popular video game, Starcraft. Many more walked in and browsed the diverse movie selection, that varied from B-rated horror, popular anime shows, essential Criterion film, TV shows and much more in VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray. When talking about movies, Demarest suggested several movies.
“Have you seen ‘Attack the Block’?” he said. “It’s John Boyega, before ‘The Force Awakens’, and it pretty much started his career,”
He also suggested “Gentleman Bronco,” a comedy that featured one of his favorite actors Sam Rockwell.
“If I had an employee’s pick section, those two have to be it,” he said.
To check out anything from the store, there are two options for customer membership. The first is the video club, much like other video stores. It costs $3 for a two-day new release or $1 to check out previously released movies for seven days. The second option is a library membership. Varying from $10 a month or $150 a year, a customer would be allotted a specific number of points as currency to check out a limited amount of media. For example, a $10 membership would allow the customer 10 points. Each media is worth a number of points, from one-point comic issues to five-point DVDs and Blu-Rays. The $10 membership will allot the customer to rent two movies at one time and those 10 points are used. Once the movies are returned, those points are returned to the customer and can be used on other media, like the games or books. This can be used until the month membership is over. This format of membership limits the amount of media that can be checked out and limit potential loss.
There are many plans for the future of The Shadow Gallery. Demarest, who is a comic book artist, wants to get art supplies to rent out from pencils to easels. This would hopefully open the store as an art collective, where people can work and share their artwork. He also hopes to host future game nights, both Tetris tournaments and Magic games.
The Shadow Gallery is at 214 E St. in Eureka and open 7 days a week 12-9 p.m. For further questions, call (707) 273-5250.