A new Magnolia Park business, Be Kind Video, offers its visitors throwback movies, a nostalgic environment, and a mix of modern entertainment.
The founder of the store is filmmaker Matthew Renoir. While forging his path in the entertainment industry, for years, Renoir had aspirations to create a video store selling a collection of classic movies.
“It’s funny because most people dream about, ‘Oh, I want to be in movies, a director or a writer or a star or whatever.’ I just always dreamed of a video store,” Renoir said. “It just made sense to me.”
After obtaining a film degree from San Francisco State University and starting to work on movie sets in the Bay Area, Renoir and his partner moved to Los Angeles in 2010. He’s since served as a cinematographer for music videos, documentaries, short films, web episodes, and more.
In recent years, Renoir and one of his friends, Aaron Therol, began discussing Renoir’s concept for a video store. As the demand for VHS tapes simultaneously started to rise, the two subsequently looked for tapes at thrift shops. They next brought a VHS tape pop-up to the Los Feliz Flea market, which Renoir says was “a big hit” with customers.
Through the California Dream Fund, Renoir took classes where he formed a business plan for Be Kind Video. He was granted $5,000 to start the store up, and after a local search, he decided to rent a space on Magnolia Boulevard across from Porto’s Bakery.
The store opened in November 2022. Renoir leads the business while Therol and other friends of Renoir’s, Matt Landsman, Conor Holt, Brian Judd, and Jane Kim, also chip in. Be Kind Video currently houses about 1,000 VHS tapes that are available for purchase. The majority of the tapes have been dropped off by community members who are looking to get rid of movies that have been taking up space in their homes for years. In addition, Be Kind Video also offers DVDs, Blu-rays, and 4K Blu-rays for sale or rent. Thus far, Renoir says Burbank has been a fitting site due to the close ties locals have to the movie business.
“It’s amazing being in Burbank, especially, because most people have some connection to the film industry, or they work at Warner Brothers or Universal or Disney, so a lot of people just want to help, they want to contribute,” Renoir said. “So it’s been incredible, actually, to foster this little community. And that was kind of the mission statement for the video store too – is really a place where you can come and hang out and talk film and just connect to other people and not necessarily have to buy something. It’s a store, sure, but I’d rather have a place where people feel comfortable hanging out and want to come back because of the atmosphere.”
Not only does the shop supply a variety of films, along with a smaller collection of television shows, but it also presents a replica of a retro home TV setup. This space features wood paneling, a vintage TV set, posters for Nintendo, “Back to the Future,” “Ghostbusters,” and more, plus other ‘80s memorabilia. Therol designed this area, and Renoir has noticed the animated reactions of customers who are flooded with memories as they walk around the store and browse videos.
“A lot of people are so funny. They’ll say, ‘Oh, this is my childhood home,’ or ask me, ‘How did you get into my basement?’” Renoir said. “It definitely harkens back to my childhood too. … I always think, ‘Yes, movies are the universal language or common denominator, but so is the weird decor.’ It’s definitely ‘of the time’ … So it’s really cool to see people connect over that stuff.”
In the nearly three months that Be Kind Video has been open for business, Renoir has arranged a few events at the location, including a Christmas movie trivia night and a VHS swap. On Jan. 12, a stand-up comedy event took place at Be Kind Video hosted by Chris Calogero and Emily Winter featuring Ian Karmel, Will Miles, Irene Tu, Ashley Brooke Roberts, and Nick Pupo. Another comedy show will be carried out on Feb. 9, and on Feb. 11, Saturday morning cartoon gatherings will begin. During these weekend get-togethers, original airings of ‘80s cartoons complete with their commercials, will be shown, and cereal will be provided for attendees to snack on.
One enjoyable aspect of running Be Kind Video for Renoir is seeing the diverse ages of customers who stop by the shop. A customer who recently turned up bought a VHS of the film “Ben-Hur,” which is a project that he told Renoir his father contributed to as a crew member. Other guests may be family units led by adults who share with their kids what their own childhood experiences with entertainment were like.
“The coolest thing is that it ranges from 90-year-old people to babies,” Renoir said of his clientele. “And so a lot of people come in to show their kids, ‘Hey, this is what we used to do Friday nights: go to Blockbuster or the mom-and-pop video store, and we used to rent two movies, get pizza, go home, watch it,’ that kind of stuff.”
Renoir has contemplated making Be Kind Video a nonprofit and plans to continue incorporating community-focused events such as monthly mixers for movie lovers. On Jan. 23, a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce was held at the store. As the business is charming patrons and gaining a loyal following, Renoir hopes to connect with other Magnolia Park merchants and keep growing the community as a sought-after spot for vintage enthusiasts in Burbank and beyond.
“That whole neighborhood has all the vintage market clothes, vintage stores: Blast From the Past, Mystic Museum, Dark Delicacies, Halloween Town, Hollywood Book & Poster, all these perfectly Venn diagram-style connections where there’s some crossover, but everyone really stands apart, which is the coolest thing,” Renoir said. “It would be nice if we … banded together and made Magnolia Park like Melrose or something. Something where it’s a destination, and you can come to hang out any night of the week.”
To learn more about Be Kind Video, visit their site here or follow them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.