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Winnie Hanford, Kensington Video’s Rock of Gibraltar, just delivered a heaping dose of terrible news. After 30 years in business, the world-class video store will be closing shop in February, 2015.

Apart from helping them go out in a blaze of glory, there is little that fans of the House that Winnie Built can do to prevent its closing. The Hanford’s minds are set. Winnie and Rich have been operating out of 4067 Adams Avenue since 1963, 21 years before turning their Hallmark Cards shop into the best damn video store in all the land.

The family has worked so hard all these years to make the store the success that it is. Who among us would dare deny them a blissful retirement? I, for one! As much as I’d love to see Winnie and Rich and Pam and Guy enjoy the fruits of their labor, where am I going to go when I need a copies of Godard’s Maoist films or Roller Boogie? Not Netflix.

With the exception of a few hired hands, Kensington Video has always operated under a strict policy of “only blood touches the register.” Winnie laughed at the thought of her grandchildren taking over the day-to-day operations, saying, “They don’t want to work as hard as we do!”

I’ll be taping an interview tomorrow with Winnie and her son and video shelf-stocker, Guy Hanford.

Update: Interview with Winnie and Guy has been posted.

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monaghan Sept. 26, 2014 @ 2:24 p.m.

Where is Malin Burnham when we REALLY need him? Kensington Video is a wonderful place. Surely there is someone who wants to learn the business and continue to run it. I am heartbroken at this news.


Scott Marks Sept. 26, 2014 @ 2:32 p.m.

Monaghan, if I really thought that's all it would take I'd have offered up my services a long time ago. It's a dying business. Why get in the car and shlep across town when anything you want is available at the click of a mouse? Fair-minded Winnie told me they would never sell to anyone else, "because they'd lose their shirts." She's right. No one today can make a go of a video store. The fact that the Hanfords stuck it out for as long as they have is both a blessing and a miracle for all San Diegans.


sdcinerama Sept. 26, 2014 @ 7:45 p.m.

Scarecrow in Seattle just went non-profit.

Please tell me someone here can work similar magic.


Javajoe25 Sept. 26, 2014 @ 7:57 p.m.

Sad news. I hate to see these old institutions disappear. It changes the character of the place and IMHO not for the better.

There was a guy that opened a video/art school/music/cd business on University Ave in Hillcrest not long ago. I think his name was Joe. He didn't stay long. Said he was relocating to North Park. Not sure if he made it, but at least he was trying. I think the only way a specialized business such as this can survive is to evolve into a hybrid multi-function operation. Maybe the folks who are running the Digital Gym on El Cajon Blvd might be interested. It would be a natural fit.


Missionaccomplished Sept. 26, 2014 @ 11:27 p.m.

Forget Digital Dim. Those people are only into their own eccentric programming.


Scott Marks Sept. 27, 2014 @ 5:30 a.m.

If by eccentric you mean the misogynistic horror slop they show at midnight, we're in complete agreement. Sadly, that trash helps to pay the bills. But where else would San Diegans have had a shot at films like "Closed Curtain," "Heli," "The Zig Zag Kid," and many other fine offerings? If anything, Guy and the gang should transform the space into their own digital screening venue and, unlike their next door neighbor, have the guts to show older films that aren't on the AFI 100. PS: Monaghan had better not come crying over my obscure taste when she reads this year's top ten. "Tracks," the best film of 2015, is currently playing at the Ken. You have until Thursday to see it. And while you're there, stop by Kensington Video.


monaghan Sept. 26, 2014 @ 10:22 p.m.

You need parking and interior store space and people who have encyclopedic knowledge of movies and a willingness to work late and be nice to customers and keep their eyes on the ball -- so definitely NOT a "hybrid multi-function operation." Those people sitting in the lobby at Digital Gym and chatting with their friends -- oh, and selling and taking your ticket -- already seem to have their plates full. Let's just say they are not qualified for this task.

What's going to happen to the inventory at Kensington Video? They went to so much trouble to reorganize and update everything in the shop. Je suis desole, as the French say -- desole with an accent on the final "e."Trust me, it's more than just being sorry.


Missionaccomplished Sept. 26, 2014 @ 11:32 p.m.

"Those people sitting in the lobby at Digital Gym and chatting with their friends -- oh, and selling and taking your ticket -- already seem to have their plates full. Let's just say they are not qualified for this task."

You are sooo right and I hope Mr. Rodriguez and Bethhhh are reading your comment.

I hope they start selling their inventory as the date draws near.


Scott Marks Sept. 27, 2014 @ 5:37 a.m.

What kind of plates? By my count there are only 48 seats in the joint. How hard is it to sell 48 tickets, wrangle a small crowd, and pass out cupcakes?


Matthew Lickona Sept. 27, 2014 @ 7:51 a.m.

That "Classic and Foreign Films" sign is a treasure. Moving to east county did cut down on my visits, but when I lived in Normal Heights, KV and David Thomson's Biographical Dictionary of Film did wonders for my movie literacy. Just a stroll across the bridge. I don't know why I thought they'd endure, but I did. Special viewing bonus: their astonishing kids' section. So many funksome things the kids would have never seen otherwise, YouTube notwithstanding. A great loss.


Edward Bursey Sept. 29, 2014 @ 10:46 p.m.

Matthew your moving and the decrease of visits really resonates with me.

I worked down in Mission Valley for a while and it was a quick zip up the 15 to Adams to stop in and grab a video. Then when I changed job locations that all changed. I'd like to try to increase my visits. Now all those silent films I kept passing by (near the rear entrance) are screaming "rent me before the crypt gates close" and so I drove over and rented two today.

This will work I hope: https://www.facebook.com/save.kensington.video

Their idea is to spread the word and get people who never tried KV to step inside.

I hope. Streaming video has "so many" choices or so it seems... until you see how many (virtually infinite) choices there are in the Hanford's shop.


Javajoe25 Sept. 27, 2014 @ 9:46 a.m.

Scott, I don't see "Tracks" playing at The Ken. I see Last Days of Nam. Wazza wazza?


Scott Marks Sept. 27, 2014 @ 2:19 p.m.

Right church, wrong pew. It's at the Landmark La Jolla Village. Sorry!


monaghan Sept. 29, 2014 @ 1:01 p.m.

"Obscure" taste is not how I would describe it, Scott. But never mind.

I will say that I know a family with children ages 12 and under who went to Mission Valley yesterday to see the 75th anniversary version of "Gone with the Wind,"even though the kids had already seen it at Granny's on a VCR. American History! Great dresses! Pseudo-feminist heroine! Quaint racist characterization and casting! Soaring music! Macho bad-boy hero! Sexy inferences (one scene now called rape!) Programmed intermission!

How does "Tracks" compare?


Scott Marks Sept. 29, 2014 @ 3:30 p.m.

GWTW is what it is – a triumph of production design. One might only imagine how truly great a film it would have been had George Cukor been allowed to complete it. Instead, that homophobic stooge Clark Gable convinced Louis B. Mayer to replace Cukor with his manly chum, Victor Fleming. The last hour, with it's revolving door of death, is when you really begin to feel the totality of the film's running time. Die already, would you, Melanie! I've watched the film 6 times, always in a theatre. Three of the screenings were dye-transfer Technicolor prints. Before seeing the light, stupid me took in a 70mm showing that effectively lopped off a third of the image. The last viewing was in the late '90's when Ted Turner payed to have it restored in pseudo-Technicolor. It's a film I have no desire to see again. As for "Tracks," I've already placed a watch on Amazon for its release date. I am delighted nonetheless that you are getting a new generation of cinephiles in the habit of watching "old" films in a theatre. Wear your gold star proudly!


Edward Bursey Sept. 29, 2014 @ 10:40 p.m.

This is awful news. I'm glad you're on it Scott because if you say there's no hope and it is for the best, then that will help me accept it.

There is a line of thought that if enough new customers can be found then things could stay as they are: http://savekensingtonvideo.blogspot.com/

However I was in Kensington Video today and overheard a guy tell Pam how his wife purchased the entire set of Star Trek the Original Series for big bucks, but now his friend has every episode instantly on streaming Netflix.

Yeah but does Netflix have Clara Bow films? Kensington Video certainly does.

Thank you for breaking the news.


Scott Marks Sept. 30, 2014 @ 4:34 a.m.

There's no hope, but you'll never hear me say it's for the best. Time marches on. We no longer have milk delivered to our homes and physical media is all but dead. It's not the store I'll miss most. I can open my own branch of Kensington Video here in Birdsong. It's the family, particularly Winnie's high octane brand of live-theatre, that I hate to see go. Winnie and Rich are both pushing 90, and as much as I love watching movies, it's more important that they get out of the store and enjoy their golden years together. In that sense, I'm genuinely thrilled that they're closing their doors. And, yes, Edward, Netflix does have Clara Bow. Not on their streaming service, but they still deliver DVDs by mail. PS: You do realize that before home video there was theatrical distribution. The best way to mourn KV's passing is by turning off your TV and going to the movies!


PETsurfer Sept. 30, 2014 @ 4:55 a.m.

A point I would like to make about those Star Trek episodes... the guy who bought the DVD set (assuming it's the one with the original series and the special effects all updated) has something that the other guy's Netflix doesn't have... the special features!

The disc will never die.


Scott Marks Sept. 30, 2014 @ 5:46 a.m.

Start hanging crepe. Discs are dead and not even blu-ray technology can revive them. And this is coming from a guy who owns thousands of DVDs. I don't know what websites you've been surfing. Having never seen an episode of "Star Trek" in my life, I was able to track them down on line, downloadable and for free! Supplementary material, too. It's time to buy an external hard drive aka the video store of tomorrow.


monaghan Oct. 2, 2014 @ 3:22 p.m.

OK, Scott, I went to see "Tracks" and it is very good. I wouldn't want the kids to follow in our heroine's footsteps -- a little too counterculture, don't you know -- but Mia W. is estimable-if-whacked and those variegated Australians are amazing. Camels good, dog excellent, boyfriend believable. Nice recommendation for best picture of the year.

Meanwhile I am holding overdue DVDs of "Duck Soup" and "The Kid" from Kensington Video -- also meant for the kids. And what will happen to kids who are just learning about movies when that wonderful store closes? There should be a Hong Kong-sized demonstration against all tech "disruptions" that are ruining the fun.


Scott Marks Oct. 3, 2014 @ 8:48 a.m.

As much as I applaud your decision to take in "Tracks," you win the bubbie of the year award for turning your grandkids on to "Duck Soup." You're doing God's work, Monaghan. As for Chaplin, keep that Lita Grey stuff from the youngsters until they're old enough to handle it.


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