Prime Time – the strangest and best movie rental shop

the best video store in the world... Or in Blackheath

Imagine you were going to start a movie rental shop. There would be a number of things you’d have to consider… How would you store your DVDs so that your customers could find them easily? Would you perhaps take the easy way out, and arrange them by title? Or would you go the Prime Time route of arranging them by actor, unless the director is more famous, in which case arrange by director. Unless they’re a new release in which case they’ll be at the front of the shop… On the left if they’re cheesy blockbusters, and on the right if they’re arty.

How would you publicise your shop? Maybe put some posters in the window? Some tempting images of hollywood starlets perhaps? Or some classic film posters from a bygone age? Surely if you had interestingly curved glass display windows you’d put something there… Perhaps you’d choose to stick some bright plastic letters to the glass saying “MASSIVE VHS CLEAROUT”, and leave it at that (don’t look confused – you know what VHS is… they were those tapes the size of buses that you used to tape Eldorado on).

The really odd thing about the shop is this labyrinthine lower level full to the brim with dusty VHS tapes. Why don’t they just get rid of them? Open a bar down there or something. I have never seen anyone leave that shop with anything other than a DVD in their hand.

And then, there is the dispute. The angry sign apologising for the lack of heating… Something to do with the chip shop next door, and air vents… Anyway, I quite like it chilly… With all that velvet it starts to feel like part of a David Lynch movie.

They don’t take credit cards – the entire place seems to run on cash only. It looks like the sort of place where you should be allowed to smoke. They ask for a credit card before allowing you to take films out, which seems a bit disingenuous.

They do have tons of great films though. And a wide variety of shop assistants – some who make terrible recommendations, and some who look mockingly at the terrible films the customers choose. It’s more atmospheric than lovefilm, and you don’t get the feeling that they’re always giving you the last item on your list (probably becuase they can’t see your list – if they did, they’d just laugh at it).

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Prime Time – the strangest and best movie rental shop

  1. L

    I used to use this shop a great deal. In the olden days of my childhood it used to rent just video tapes from the shop near Greggs that is now a funky homeware shop (next to the tiny gallery). The owner (still the same guy as far as I know) had the most beautiful boxer dog. Whenever I bump into him it’s always a shock to remember the dog would be 140 by now and is long gone.

  2. blackheathbugle

    I’m sure there are about a hundred homeware shops near Greggs! Maybe the owner will see this page, and send a photo…

  3. homestandards

    Quality. Been there seen it done it,. Awesome..

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  6. Oscar

    I used to visit Primetime when it was where ‘RightAngle’ is now. Max, the owners dog as “L” mentions was a welcome bonus to your video rental experience. Primetime is a loss at the detriment to the area as, with very few things these days, seemed to be run and stocked by someone with an interest in their shops’s contents, Cinema in this case. I’m not blameless in the shift towards Sky, Bt Vision or Virgin rentals but feel a strange, paralelled empathy towards the writer of “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

  7. Blackheathen

    Very sad it’s going. I like the whole spontaneity of being able to pop in when I feel like a film. Love films would need planning. No fun. I understand that online film viewing will be the thing of the future but the point of this ramble is to say I heard the White Company were interested in the lease. Not sure though; just a rumour.

  8. Beglen

    Such a perfect review! It will be sadly missed.

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