The people, the popcorn, the porn. From foreign films to “Facebath 69,” Liberty Street Video has catered to film lovers of all kinds. For years, this trendy stop for video fun has been a favorite of Ann Arbor and its residents, and this year it proves again to earn the title it will expectedly continue to deserve, the best video store in Ann Arbor.

Paul Wong
Where else can you find “Shakes the Clown” on Beta? (EMMA FOSDICK/Daily)

Now everyone knows that, although Blockbuster and Hollywood video have their clear stake in the city, true locals and students alike know only two video stores, Liberty Street Video and Campus Video. Sure, you can drive to the monster chains, but this is Ann Arbor. Most people here are either incredibly lazy or picketing against evil big-business conglomerates like the Blockbuster monopoly.

What is it that makes Liberty Street Video the top video store in the area? “It caters to film lovers of all kinds. No one has such an extensive adult, NC-17, unrated, foreign and gay/lesbian collection. It’s a movie store for movie lovers,” said general manager Steve Smith when describing his store. Even the layout of the store is unconventional. The more mainstream genres like action and drama are relegated downstairs while the center of the main floor is devoted to their extensive gay/lesbian section. “If it wasn’t intentional to start that way, it was intentional to stay that way. It’s something that people have in the past been ashamed of and that’s a lousy thing. These people have been ignored. We are proud of our diversity. It’s our bread and butter. It’s what we’re most proud of, so we want to show that more prominently.”

With the surge in popularity of DVD over the past few years, video stores are adjusting to accommodate their customers. Smith said of Liberty’s growing DVD selection, “Everything’s going that way. It would be silly, an unwise business decision not to. You have to if you want to compete, to stay open.”

Competition on campus isn’t an issue for Liberty Street Video. General Manager Smith said of his competitor Campus Video, “We don’t hate them because we don’t see them as a threat. They are more exclusively student-centered. We tend to be local video store of choice. We cater to the townies as well as the students.” He continued, “I just want people to know that we don’t hate Campus Video. We reserve all hatred exclusively for Hollywood Video and Blockbuster. We all form a brotherhood against the evil corporate empire.”

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