REPORTAGE – Located in a small shop on Avenue Parmentier, JM Vidéo is one of the last DVD rental companies in the capital. If he does not experience the crisis, despite the pandemic, it is above all thanks to a unique identity, between place of life and local commerce.
It’s hard to imagine that online sales could one day replace the atmosphere that reigns at JM Video. Before the re-containment, this room, however modest, was always full. Normally, in one of the last video clubs in Paris, it is possible to rent, for 3.90 euros, the film of your choice among the 50,000 available references (against 3,500 available on Netflix). This selection – the shelves are crammed with DVD boxes, floor to ceiling, and it’s not a picture – attracts a large following. Cinephiles, but not only. We come here, like a vinyl seller, with the same appetite for discovery.
Philippe Zaghroun, owner of JM Video, had already planned everything for a second confinement. “My salespeople have gone into partial unemployment”, he explains. Internet sales already represented 40% of its activity. For three weeks, he has put a mail-order rental formula: thirty euros for five films for ten days. “For me, it will be almost more work than usual, he launches. I continue to go to the store every day to prepare the shipments ”. It has also set up a click & collect system, as booksellers have done: withdrawals are possible every day from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Between the convenience store and the cinema club
Usually, each customer has his reason for walking the two small aisles of the store, rocked by a Bob Dylan tune on the radio. The day before the confinement, Adele had accompanied her friend here, in search of a film for their evening. “On the Internet, we always spend an hour looking for a film that we don’t like, she admits. There we can allow ourselves to be surprised by what we see, and since we have to return the film, we force ourselves to watch it ”. After asking Mathis, an employee of the video club, for advice, the two young girls left with Personal diary by Nanni Moretti. A vespa trip through the streets of the Eternal City. Not so bad before staying cloistered at home again.
“On the Internet, we always spend an hour looking for a film that we don’t like. There we can afford to be surprised by what we see, and since we have to return the film, we force ourselves to watch it ”
Adèle, a client of JM Vidéo.
Sébastien, now a director, lives in the neighborhood. He’s a regular at the store. “I often walked past. I ended up going home, and I made myself all the Inspector Harry ! ”. From film to film, he took root in the store, becoming one of the salespeople and advisers for more than four years. “It is between the neighborhood trade and the meeting place, he describes. I know that if I want a director, a sequence, there will always be people here to share my passion ”. “There is dust, sometimes the DVDs fall off the shelves … It’s a living place”, says Natalie, 45, who can’t wait to see JM Video’s curtain rise.
There is a side of Madeleine de Proust. It’s like a pilgrimage. Some go to church, we come to get our film.
Sébastien, director and regular at JM Vidéo.
Located between the Odyssey and the Wind Watchers, two bookstores in this district between Belleville and République, JM Vidéo attracts a loyal clientele, cinephile and a little intellectual. “At one time, there were promotions on cartoons for 10 francs, remembers the owner of the place. Today, the same customers who came to pick up their cartoons still come back out of nostalgia ”. “There is a side of Proust’s madeleine, adds Sébastien. It’s like a pilgrimage. Some go to church, we come to get our film. ”
Forty years of video club
The youngest clients of JM Vidéo know this haunt thanks to Konbini. The team of this site shoots their “Video club” interviews there, where directors recommend their favorite films. “Konbini it is the last link in a chain of events, corrects Philippe Zaghroun. It was already a place frequented by artists before ”.
JM Video opened in 1982, and has since gone through the successive revolutions of video. “Twelve years ago, before the subprime crisis, we had eight employees. Today there are three of us ”, says the owner. “But the house is still spinning!”, he congratulates himself. He adds an anecdote: “One of my employees told me: “If one day there is only one video club left, it will be JM Vidéo”“.
“I will have to pass the torch at some point. In any case, I will never close the video club ”
Philippe Zaghroun, owner of JM Vidéo.
Philippe expects to see his turnover fall by 80% with this reconfinement. But he seems unfazed. “We have seen others: the law on copyright, the arrival of Canal + …” This situation still seems unique among video clubs: there are less than fifty in France. In 2015, there were six in Paris. Two of them have since closed. Philippe regrets that the rental of films is not sanctuarized, or at least treated with the same consideration as the sale of books. “We have a video tax of 2% of our turnover, and we are subject to 20% VAT. If we had a VAT of 5.5%, we would have more leeway and we could further reduce our prices ”, he claims.
According to its owner, JM Video still has a very bright future ahead of it. Philippe still records 4k Blu-Rays in his database, “To send a signal, to show that the activity continues”. Proof that it is not just a niche market, a customer orders the latest Marvel film. “I will have to pass the torch at some point, he concludes. In any case, I will never close ”.