Iceland’s Last Dedicated Video-Rental Store Closes

Video-rental store

At the end of the month, Iceland’s last dedicated video-rental store*, Aðalvideoleigan in downtown Reykjavík, will close. The owner of the store hopes to sell as much of his collection to “finance the losses accrued over the past two years.”

A kind of institution among local filmmakers

In a Facebook post published yesterday, Reynir Maríuson, known more familiarly as Aðal-Reynir, announced that he would be closing Aðalvideoleigan – “the last dedicated video-rental store in Iceland” – located on Klapparstígur in downtown Reykjavík.

“Starting tomorrow, March 10, there will be an incredible selection of DVD titles for sale, from all over the world and from all genres. Now do me one last favour, dear friends, and share this post – and come help me close so that I can offset some of the losses that have accumulated over the past two years.”

As noted in an interview with Reynir from 2017, Aðalvideoleigan’s collection boasts nearly 30,000 titles. Reynir has been around the store for more than three decades. In a brief interview with Iceland Review today, IR inquired if it was accurate that Aðalvideoleigan had been founded in 1984. Reynir replied that there was no consensus regarding the exact date: “Ownership has changed hands over the years, but I’ve been around the store for something like 30 years.”

During his time at Aðalvideoleigan, Reynir observed that he had met “a lot of great people;” the store has served as something of a university for Icelandic film enthusiasts. In 2014, director Ragnar Bragason told a reporter from Monitor that Aðalvideoleigan had had a huge impact on his work: “I’ve often said that Aðalvideoleigan on Klapparstígur was my film school. I was a daily guest of the store for many years – and it was where I imbibed the history of film.”

When asked about its connection to the Icelandic film scene, Reynir maintained that most of the filmmakers in the country had, at some point, been patrons of the store: “There’s no Icelandic director – aside from, perhaps, the very young – who weren’t raised in Aðalvideoleigan.”

Saddened by the prospect

Reynir – obviously saddened by the fact that he was forced to close Aðalvideoleigan, and sell off at least part of the collection to offset the losses – rued the fact that many film enthusiasts had turned to streaming: “It’s sad that this cultural institution is being closed. And there’s no one there to keep it open. I also find it a bit odd how quickly all of the highbrow types migrated to streaming services.”

Numerous patrons expressed their sadness on Facebook at the prospect of Aðalvideoleigan closing. According to Aðalvideoleigan’s Facebook page, the store is open every day from 3 to 11.30 PM. Those interested can swing by and purchase DVDs to support Aðalvideoleigan.

*As noted in an article in Austurfrétt from January, a video-rental store is still being operated in Eskifjörður, East Iceland, although that store also vends vaping and tobacco products.