The resurrection of Kim’s Video

The Alamo Drafthouse revival of the iconic Kim’s Video reestablishes video rental stores in New York.


Saige Gipson

Kim’s Video is a video and music rental store located at 28 Liberty St. inside the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. (Photo by Saige Gipson)

Saige Gipson, Staff Writer

Kim’s Video reopened inside the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center on March 30. The famous video and music rental store quickly became a staple of the New York film scene after its initial opening in 1986. The store began in a dry cleaner in the East Village and expanded to five other locations until the last store officially closed in 2014.

The iconic store contains founder Yongman Kim’s personal video collection of almost 55,000 DVDs and VHS tapes. It houses many rare films that cannot be found anywhere else, including “Oz — A Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Movie” and many student films. 

In addition to rare films, Kim’s Video carries classics, such as “Pretty in Pink” and “Taxi Driver.” Only a third of Kim’s collection is currently available to rent, but the theater has plans to circulate more over time.

The Alamo’s revival of Kim’s Video is dedicated to the Italian municipality of Salemi, a town that purchased the collection as a part of their village restoration project. After the collection’s 2012 arrival in Salemi, it vanished from the public eye.

The Alamo thanks Salemi for “its commitment to the promotion, maintenance, and return of the collection,” as stated by a plaque on the wall of the theater. The Sicilian town now has a museum exhibit dedicated to Kim’s Video and will be hosting a film festival to screen movies from the collection.

The journey to Italy is only a piece of the collection’s colorful history, as members of the original store include famous filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. Notable previous employees of the store include filmmakers Nick Zedd and Todd Phillips, as well as actress Kate Lyn Sheil.

Video collection has remained somewhat relevant thanks to restoration companies such as The Criterion Collection keeping it alive. As media enthusiasts return to their nostalgic roots, pastimes such as film photography and vinyl collection are making a comeback. Kim’s Video has come at the perfect time to join the resurgence of physical media.

Although video collection has not been entirely killed by streaming platforms and digital downloads that are arguably more convenient, Kim’s brings back the video retail store. Kim’s Video allows people to sink back into the past and indulge in their nostalgia as they walk through retro stacks of DVDs and VHS tapes.

Kim’s Video offers free rentals for five days, with a two-dollar charge for every week that the rental is late. The store also loans DVD and VHS players to members for no extra charge. Despite the popularity of streaming services, Kim’s Video remains remarkable with its wide collection of cult and independent films. 

The store not only offers rare films, but gives people a chance to experience physical media in a digital age. Whether you’re a collector or rediscovering physical media, the revived Kim’s Video is sure to excite.

Contact Saige Gipson at [email protected].