Katie Brown came in to Videoport on Friday to take pictures with her Nikon camera. Libby Zerner’s goal was to rent an armful of videos and make the store’s cash register a little fuller. And Regan Eldridge said she simply wanted to “spend some more time here.”

Friday marked the second-to-last day that Videoport, a Portland landmark tucked into a basement space on Middle Street, would be renting videos. The store will stop renting videos at 10 p.m. Saturday, after 28 years in business. Owner Bill Duggan announced the closing in July, saying online competition and rising costs were the prime factors.

While people came to the store on Friday to gather bunches of movies for weekend viewing, as they’ve always done, they also came in to collect memories, warm feelings and last looks.

And to say goodbye.

“No matter what foulness is going on out there, as you walk in and see all these movies, it snaps you out of whatever mood you’re in,” said Brown of Portland, a customer for 25 years. “It doesn’t feel like a store. It feels like a cool friend’s house you want to get invited to.”

Duggan and his staff were, to many people, the cool friends who knew more about movies than anyone else and wanted to share their knowledge day and night. They’d hand you a free poster, help you wade through the “Incredibly Strange” film section and recommend films based on your personality.


When Duggan announced the closing in July, he said he would donate the store’s 18,000 titles to the Portland Public Library. It was a generous and friendly gesture that customers and employees said was in line with the way he ran his store and treated people.

“It speaks to how they feel about the community. They know how much people depend on them,” said Zerner, a former Portland resident who lives in Dallas but spends summers in Maine. “I can’t say I’m surprised they are closing, but I’m going to miss it.”

The sharing of Videoport memories will continue for the next few weeks. Employees and former employees are planning a private “alumni” party sometime next week at the store, while a more public celebration is being organized for Sept. 4 at Bayside Bowl in Portland. That party will include several bands featuring former Videoport employees.

“We’ve all been very fortunate to have Videoport as long as we’ve had, and this is a celebration of that,” said Geets Romo, a local music promoter who is helping organize the Bayside Bowl party.

Since announcing the donation to the library, Videoport staff members have begun transferring some titles to the library, including many classic recent releases marketed as “The Criterion Collection.” “A few hundred” of those are already on library shelves, said Sarah Campbell, the library’s executive director.

The donation of 18,000 titles will double the library’s existing collection, so they probably won’t all be displayed on shelves, Campbell said. Much of the collection will be in storage, and people will access titles by requesting them via the online catalog.


Campbell is not sure when the entire collection will be available through the library and its branches. The library will have to spend some money to process the films, so they can be scanned by library equipment. Campbell said the library already has been contacted by people who want to donate time or money to help maintain the video collection.

“Videoport has been such a tremendous asset to the community, and with this donation they will continue to be,” Campbell said.

Videoport offers many specials every day, and Friday’s was a free kids’ movie, with no purchase necessary. Most videos rent for $3.50, but with all the specials the actual cost is usually less.

People in the store on Friday weren’t there for specials, and they weren’t particularly concerned about the prices.

“We’ve been here every day since we heard they were closing,” said T.J. Lewis of Portland, holding his 11-week-old son, Reese, near the action films. “We’ve been getting as many movies as we can because we’re really dreading having to go to Redbox.”

Duggan was not at his store Friday and could not be reached for comment.


At the check-out desk was April McLucas, who has worked at the store for 13 years and is one of just four employees left. The store once had 15 full-time employees.

McLucas smiled and laughed with customers. She told them they could return the videos to the store by Aug. 22 or after that in the drop box. Or if they’re really late, they can just bring them to the library.

Though she smiled Friday, McLucas said the days leading up to the closing have been very emotional for her.

“I dream about this place every night. I dreamt we’re just moving into another space, and that so many people came in we couldn’t close,” she said.

In reality, Videoport’s story already has a pretty good ending, the kind you might see in the movies.

“Giving all the videos to the library,” said McLucas, “that’s our Hollywood ending.”


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