Thursday, March 1, 2012
Dear Good People of Bernal Heights and Beyond,
We, Amy and Ken Shelf (and our children, Huck and Trudy) became owners of Four Star Video in March of 2007 – five years ago! The previous owner, David Ayoob, had passed away in November of 2006 after also owning Four Star Video for five years. Ken had a funny epiphany one night realizing that Dave's life seemed quite romantic and lovely, and that perhaps he could step into those huge shoes and become a business owner on Cortland. “These are our working years” he said to Amy, while convincing her of his plan. Oh, we've laughed hard at that memory.
Our friends (some of you!) were very worried about this. A video store? How can that survive? What about Netflix? Redbox? Comcast? AppleTV? Hulu? Streaming of any sort? Iphone, Ipod, Ipad, I put it at 3-5 years maximum. We'd already seen so many video stores close. Meanwhile, we told them (and our parents, and ourselves), we will contemplate our options, prepare a business plan for another store. Not get caught with out pants down (well...you know what I mean).
A funny thing happened along the way, our great friend and mentor, Darcy Lee, suggested we start selling succulents, those lovely thick-leaved plants that have such a penchant for existence that they sometimes refuse to die. We hemmed. We hawed. Then we bit, set out a table in the back patio and picked up some plants.
Well, like a rice grain and a pinto bean, somehow, improbably, we formed a whole protein with video and plant. Virtual and organic. Entertainment and existence. And here we are; five years later, still renting videos and also offering classes on vertical gardening and terrarium building. And seeds for your vegetable gardens. And lighting for your romantic dinner. And freshly made jams and pickles and supplies. And handmade ceramics and necklaces and belt buckles. And art, both utilitarian and otherwise. And, of course, succulents, small and large, of all colors and types, in a state of joy, waiting to be taken home to nurture and nourish.
The video store? Like Joaquin Phoenix, still here! In September last year, we realized we didn't need to separately “own” two stores on the same footprint, so we merged the two, and now our entire operation is called Succulence. And currently, Succulence has a huge video rental library, with well over 25,000 titles, and 10-20 new titles every week. Our subscription program (cleverly called Kenflix) allows you to rent without late fees and due dates. Our educated staff helps you to pick out what you didn't even know you wanted. We still offer the opportunity to browse and touch videos with your actual hands. Yes we are constantly making changes to our layout. We must! Our responsibility is to survive. That is our intention; survival. Our plan is to be in business in Bernal Heights, whether or not we rent videos, sell plants, teach classes, or whatever. We want to be up here, at 402 Cortland, schmoozing with you, our friends, our neighbors, and those of you we have just met, offering some good honest business with care and attention. That is our plan. Thank you for supporting us.
Love and Kisses,
Ken and Amy Shelf