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Is this the last video rental store in Boston?

Video Underground in Jamaica Plain, run by <b>Kevin Koppes</b>, is among the very last video rental shops in Boston. “I don’t really have a typical customer,” he says.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Video Underground in Jamaica Plain has no business being there — or anywhere else.

Why in the world of Netflix and Amazon Prime would anybody trudge down the street to a brick-and-mortar store that rents out videos? Is that still a thing?

Owner Kevin Koppes believes Video Underground is among the last remaining full-service video-rental stores in Boston. With 10,000 titles, it’s stocked as well as any of those long-gone Blockbuster rental stores. But in keeping with the neighborhood’s eclectic reputation, this shop offers a diverse inventory. There are Disney films aplenty, but also Japanese anime, European art-house fare, postwar Hollywood film noir, and grindhouse horror.


“I don’t really have a typical customer,” said Koppes, 33. “Some people just want family stuff. Some people just want the bloodiest stuff we have.”

Paul Wood, a 51-year-old attorney from Jamaica Plain, browses for the occasional James Bond movie or for a Wes Anderson film. When he first found out about Video Underground, he doubted it had much of a future. “I was hoping he would be able to make a go of it,” he said, “and I guess he has.”

Wood could subscribe to an Internet video-streaming service, but he’d rather not. “It’s like going to a wine shop. I like coming in here and having somebody to talk to,” he said.

Koppes hails from Iowa. He came to town a couple of years ago and began renting videos at the store, which was founded in 2002. When he learned last year that the owners were planning to close, Koppes purchased a majority share of the business and moved it from its previous Hyde Square location to Washington Street.

“We do OK,” Koppes said. “It’s a low-volume, high-profit business.”

His inventory is largely paid for, so most of the fee — $1 a day — makes it to the bottom line.


Koppes is hoping to generate more revenue and more foot traffic when he installs a coffee bar in the next few months.

He also sells old-school VHS videotapes, including oddities that never made the transition to DVD, such as “Even Hitler Had A Girfriend.” “VHS tapes are either worth $30 or worth nothing,” Koppes said.

The Video Underground isn’t an easy shop to find, but that only enhances its best-kept-secret vibe. And if you’re in the mood for some French New Wave cinema, early John Sayles, or a kiddie classic like “Ernest Scared Stupid,” it’s pretty much the only game in town.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

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