CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — The retro soda machine that greets you at the door offers the first hint at the real throwback downstairs.

The old-school drop box. The plea to be kind and rewind. Yes, the basement of 1740 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge is an honest-to-goodness video store. Or at least it was – until Tuesday night.

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“When my wife and I were dating, every Friday night involved a trip here,” explains customer John Burt, his arms full of discount DVDs he’s purchasing for just a couple of dollars each now that the Hollywood Express video store is closing its doors.



“I like coming to ask the guys at the front desk what to see,” he says.

“This is like a library of film and they’ve had everything and it’s wonderful,” says customer Glenna Lang, who says she has patronized the video store for each of its 29 years of existence.

“It’s a very sad day,” says Cambridge resident Cathryn Cluver who lives just blocks from the store.

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“It has been Hollywood Express all the time; I have one of the most weathered membership cards they have,” Cluver says. “They always know exactly what I’m looking for, they know my tastes in and out. I can always find what I want. It’s really going to be very tough to fill that void.”

But owner George Lewis has known how this movie would end for some time.

“There was zero profit in the last four-and-a-half years,” Lewis offers. “I knew what was going to happen; it was just about when it was going to happen. There was never a question in my mind. I knew this day would come and I’ve known it for years.”

Movie streaming on demand with sites like Netflix and Hulu changed everything, as did rental facilities like Redbox, Lewis says. But what places like this offer, purists maintain streaming cannot replace.

“They always know exactly what I’m looking for, they know my tastes in and out. I can always find what I want,” says Culver.

“I have resisted Netflix completely,” says Lang. “I thought it would lead to the demise of places like this, and I think it partly has. And it’s a real loss that cannot be replaced.”

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Lewis says thousands of DVDs and VHS tapes remain, even after his going-out-of-business sale. He plans to box them up and donate the bulk to hospitals and schools. The rest, he says, will end up for sale…online.