Friday, May 20

The last great video store in Madrid fights against the closure: “This is a jewel and it is something that must be maintained”

A blue sign with yellow letters presides over the entrance to Ficciones, the last great video store – or DVD club, as it says on the doorstep itself – that remains in Madrid and that these weeks is waging the last battle for its survival, after having been injured in the pandemic. Inside the room, behind a counter with a computer and posters with offers and price information, is Marcia Seburo, the owner and the only person who works there. “I am the manager, the shop assistant, the cleaning worker, the manager and head of sales, I am everything,” she says smiling, surrounded by movies.

“Over here we have American cinema, on that shelf the Swedish, the Icelandic or the Danish. And here, the premieres”, she expresses while taking a guided tour of the shelves that inhabit every corner of the premises. The one with the novelties occupies an entire front at the back of the room. On the shelves of the video store there are around 48,000 different titles on DVD or Blu-ray waiting for someone to decide to rent them. “Fiction cinema, horror, documentaries, French cinema, Latin American…”, she continues as she goes to the second room. “Everything that does not fit into an important director, let’s say, that is his only film, is here.”

Ficciones was launched in 2004 and since then it has experienced happy times and faced setbacks, but nothing has put its survival at stake like the pandemic. “It has been decisive,” laments Marcia. In 2020 it had to be closed during the two months of strict confinement. “I owed rent in March, April, May, June, July and September. It was like 7,000 euros just for that. To this we must add personal income tax, receipts, invoices to suppliers…”, she lists. Until now, he has been able to pay off debts with savings or also by tightening his belt, with gestures such as not turning on the heating. “I have come to have up to 10,000 euros in debt,” she admits.

After having invested what she had left, the owner of Ficciones has decided to go one step further to save it, because she can no longer afford all the expenses. “It’s the last”, in her own words, so she has launched a campaign of crowdfunding, so that everyone who wants and can put their grain of sand to bring this iconic place forward. “I think it will be saved. I hope so, because my idea is that”, says Marcia. “With the crowdfunding I want to clear the debts and leave everything at zero, as if I had just opened. I want to recapitalize and re-invest in some way.”

“Good afternoon, Marcia!”, while the video store worker talks to, a client enters the premises. As she explains, she has been a member of Ficciones “for many years”, since before the current owner arrived. “I’ll bring you this,” she says as she pulls out of her bag the box with the DVD she’s returning. “I needed more merchandise to see today. I have three and four. And give me the next ones, please.”

The client explains that she is watching a series that portrays England before the First World War. “This is a jewel and it is something that must be valued and maintained even if it costs a little more effort.” While the woman talks to this newspaper, Marcia lovingly keeps the discs that she has brought her and she looks for the ones that she has asked for. “At home I have Netflix and other applications, but I think it is compatible with this. There is competition, it is true, but they can coexist”, she argues.

The arrival of the platforms, precisely, is something that the video store has had to face, in addition to other things such as piracy, although neither one nor the other has done “excessive” damage, according to Marcia and there are still those who value getting closer to these places so that those who run them recommend series or movies that match the day they have had. A custom that abounded in the 80s and 90s of the last century and in the early 2000s and is now in extinction.

“There are many colleagues who have closed and many others who are about to throw in the towel,” says Seburo. “In the end, Video Instan –in Barcelona– and I are going to stay in Spain. No more”, he acknowledges, while confessing that, in fact, the name of his company is El último videoclub SL, and that he chose it seven years ago, when there were still many more places to rent cinemas throughout Spain. .

At that time, Ficciones had two offices, Tirso de Molina and Malasaña. In the latter, Marcia began working in 2008 on weekends and, after leaving the law firm to which she belonged, in 2014 she became in charge of that location. Some time later, the owner, Andrés Santana, found another job and had to leave the video store. Since they didn’t give him the numbers to pay more staff, he thought of selling Tirso de Molina’s. But the neighbors prevented it by putting money in another collection. After that, Seburo says, he called her in case he wanted to keep it. “I’m leaving it to you because I know you have the illusion,” he says that he told her, “and in the end I merged the two into one and here I am, with the illusion and the debts.”

In recent years, this place where Marcia “fell in love” with cinema and which she considers as “her place” and “her headache”, has caused her more economic losses than benefits. “It makes me keep going because it seems important to me that Madrid maintain this place, a video store, that it has a place where people who really like cinema can go see a movie that is nowhere to be found.”

“Hello! Good afternoon!”, the door of the premises located at number 15 of Juanelo street in the capital opens again. It is Chema, one of the more than 38,000 members who have been part of the video club since its launch and one of the latest additions to it. So far this year, some 24 people have signed up, details the owner. The average age is about 40 or 50 years, although there are also younger or older. By nationalities, after the Spaniards, the majority are French, explains Seburo.

“When you like movies, sometimes you repeat the movies. You see them again and you realize another detail”, says the man, while asking Marcia for some recommendation. “There is one around here called the house of clocks”, she replies. “Is that magic?” asks the customer, “If so, I’ll take it.”

“I come every week for movies, when I see them,” Chema tells this newspaper and two young people who are spending the afternoon at the place. “Video clubs no longer exist. There is this one and another in Fermín Caballero, which is much smaller”, she regrets, at the same time that she appreciates that “at least” they continue to exist. “That this woman has the video store open is very important. Let’s hope she is saved, ”she says as she compares it to the fate of another that remained in Getafe and that the pandemic forced to close. “She has screwed us all.”

“There are people who tell me to ‘close it’”, says Marcia about her video store. But she doesn’t want to. She loves passing the hours between movies and chats with clients – “the most enriching thing in the business” – and she speaks with infinite affection towards her work. “I’ve ever thought about quitting, but it doesn’t last long.” “A couple of years ago or three, I got a nervous herpes on my face. And it was because of the problems, because there are always debts”. Despite this, Ficciones has always managed to continue.

And one of the ways it has done so has been by reinventing itself. In addition to films and posters, on its walls there are also t-shirts that a friend of Marcia makes and she sells to her in exchange for a commission, or on the counters there are boxes of packages that people take and pick up, because the owner of Ficciones decided to become point of delivery and collection of shipments in order to cover some expenses. It has recently started collaborating with an application for tourists to leave their bags if they have nowhere to do so while they are walking around the city.

With that and the membership dues, you will be able to get ahead, as long as you manage to cover the debt that remains in the collection that you have opened in gofundme. “If I achieve it, I will feel very proud. Very, very much. I am going to take care of him and I am going to continue fighting for him more, ”she assures. However, she reminds her, when she gets out of this rut, it will still be necessary for people to go to her place to watch movies.

“The video club is like my gift to Madrid. That is why I want to keep it, it cannot be that Madrid stops having a video store”, she laughs. “I want to give this to the city. But you give away what you can and I hope to continue doing so”. Clients also see it as a gift and tell her that she “can’t close”, but the woman herself remembers that the title she has put on the campaign “is true”. “It’s the last push, because I feel like it’s the last. If it comes out, it came out. But if it doesn’t come out, I’m not going to try anything else, closing liquidation. It is done”.