Christmas in McKinley Park

Joe Trutin, proprietor of The Video Strip, stands at the ready with 4K movies, gourmet popcorn and other accoutrement for a great movie, TV show or gaming night.

Last Store Standing: Video Strip Keeps Neighborhood, Cinephiles Happy with Movie, TV, Game Rentals

Published January 19, 2021

Business Name: The Video Strip
Industry: Video and game rental 
Hours: 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.
Address: 3307 S. Archer Ave.
Phone: (773) 927-4307

One of the last video stores in the entire metropolitan region is The Video Strip in the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.

Run by local resident Joe Trutin since 1995, the Video Strip persists as one of the only places to "go rent a video" and enjoy the trappings of this now-rare experience, with snacks, tschotchkes and a live, seasoned source for recommendations and special orders.

The Video Strip horror section 20210111The popular horror category at The Video Strip appeals with its giant collection of titles."There's a little bit of everything in here," Trutin said.

Embrace of the Latest

At the time of its founding, four video stores were within a two-block radius in the McKinley Park neighborhood, Trutin said. Now, with the recent closing of the Family Video chain, as well as the shutdown of independent outlets like Odd Obsession, The Video Strip is among the last surviving video stores in the region. (The only other, Trutin said, is Video Playground in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood on the far South Side.)

One distinguishing element of The Video Strip has been its embrace of the newest media formats through the history of the business. In 1997, The Video Strip was the first video store in Chicago to offer DVD rental, Trutin said, turning to click into his records that stretched back to the store's founding. "The first DVD title in stock was 'My Best Friend's Wedding,'" he said.

Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

Nowadays, staying current means stocking movies in 4K format alongside DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, as well as renting games for the newest consoles like the Sony PlayStation 5 and the Microsoft XBox Series X, Trutin said.

Fidelity to Source

Unique to renting at a specialist video store is the quality of source material, Trutin said. In the case of 4K movies, a streamed product will never match the visual quality of a physical 4K disc because of the inevitable degradation that results from the digital compression of streamed media, such as the blocky "artifacts" seen in low-contrast scenes of high-definition media.

Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

"Even though people pay for 4K streaming, you're never truly seeing the quality of that 4K unless you have a physical copy," Trutin said.

Trutin also noted the way that many movies and shows suffer by having their original aspect ratio chopped, cutting out part of the picture to make it fill a modern screen. This is seen many times in streaming media and especially in the stripped-down releases found in rentals from pickup services like Redbox, Trutin said.

The Video Strip storefront 3307 S Archer Ave 20210111The Video Strip sits in a storefront at 3307 S. Archer Ave., Chicago.Also, many times the original source content has been edited, Trutin said, or removed outright. "Disney+ advertises that they have all 30 seasons of 'The Simpsons,'" Trutin said. "But they don't have all episodes of all 30 seasons." 

Range of Selection

All of the supplemental content included with original physical media is often not included for streaming, Trutin said: things like special features, deleted scenes, commentary and interviews. "There's always a bonus that you get," he said.

At more than 25,000 titles, the library of The Video Strip dwarfs that of any streaming video service. These titles persist, too, Trutin said, unlike those on streaming services, which can be discontinued "or disappear altogether."

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

This selection draws a membership from across the Chicago area, Trutin said. "I get people coming in from as far as DuPage."

Business Diversification

In addition to media rental, The Video Strip supports specialty ordering and sales, including for vinyl LP records, music CDs and any movie or TV releases that Trutin can help run down. He can almost always offer prices for ordered media below that of the listed retail price, he said.

A big, rotating selection of pop-culture figures and collectibles from Funko has been popular, Trutin said, as well as the Ass Kickin' brand of popcorn they sell. "This is the best popcorn I've ever eaten," he said.

Trutin has also diversified by setting the store as a drop-off and pick-up point for neighborhood UPS deliveries. 

Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.

The Best of It

Trutin reiterated the personal service and scope of content as some of the things that make The Video Strip stand out.

"If you want to see everything, come to a video specialist," Trutin said. "You're going to get the best of the best out of it."

Ari Lehman Joe Trutin The Video Strip McKinley Park ChicagoAri Lehman, who played horror favorite Jason Voorhees in the first "Friday the 13th" movie, visits store proprietor Joe Trutin at The Video Strip. Photo provided courtesy of The Video Strip.

Related Topics

Log In to comment on this item.
Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.