Videoport, the iconic movie-rental store in the Old Port, could finally become a victim of the widespread switch to streaming films online and Portland’s hot real estate market.

The owner of the Old Port building at 151 Middle St. that has housed the video business since it opened in 1990 is advertising the space to other potential tenants.

What that means for the local business and its wide selection of films, from Hollywood blockbusters to the most obscure of foreign independent productions, is unclear.

Bill Duggan, Videoport’s owner, said Thursday that the store’s lease expired in April 2013 and the store has been a tenant-at-will ever since. He said he’s negotiating a new lease with the building’s owner, East Brown Cow Management Inc.

Duggan said he has no plans to close the store or move to a new location. He declined to provide additional details because, he said, he didn’t want to say something that could upset negotiations.

Attempts Thursday afternoon to reach someone at East Brown Cow Management were not successful.


The space has been on the market for the past few months, according to Peter Harrington, the real estate broker at Malone Commercial Brokers who listed the nearly 4,000-square-foot basement space where Videoport is located.

Harrington did not sound hopeful that the landlord’s negotiations with Videoport would allow the store to remain in its current location.

“We’ve been hoping Videoport would stay, but it doesn’t look like in the age of video-on-demand that it’s going to work out,” Harrington said. “We’d like to have them continue on, but it doesn’t look like it will be economically feasible. It’s a sad day for Portland.”

He’s advertising the basement space for $17.75 per square foot and wasn’t sure what Videoport is currently paying for the space.

“The landlord has worked with them to keep their rent affordable,” he said.

The building is also home to Bullmoose Music, Casablanca Comics, Studio One Ltd. and its newest, most high-end tenant – Anthropologie, an upscale purveyor of clothing and housewares. Attempts to reach the owners of these neighboring retailers were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon. Harrington said none of the other spaces in the building is for rent.


The arrival of Anthropologie was noted at the annual Maine Real Estate & Development Association forecasting conference in January. Mark Malone, of Malone Commercial Brokers, presented on Portland’s retail sector. In speaking about the urbanization of retail offerings in the Old Port, he referenced the arrival of Urban Outfitters in 2011 and the opening of Anthropologie this year as harbingers of things to come.

“Anthropologie signing a lease says a lot to national retailers,” he said. “If we had more space, we’d see more similar stores.”

Harrington stressed, though, that no one is trying to push out local retailers in favor of national retail tenants.

“Our goal is to get a tenant, national or not, that’s good for Portland,” he said. “Our goal is to work with locals as much as we can. I don’t want the gist to be that we’re trying to get rid of locals to get national retailers. It’s just not true.”

The lease rates for prime retail space in the Old Port, which includes Exchange, Wharf and Commercial streets, in 2014 ranged from $30 to $40 per square foot, according to information presented by MEREDA, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association. The next tier of retail space, including the Middle Street area, leased commonly for $25 to $30 per square foot.

Charlie Craig, a real estate broker at NAI Dunham Group who focuses on retail markets, said the Portland market “has been pretty hot.” He expects Anthropologie’s presence will likely put slight upward pressure on the lease rates among neighboring businesses when it’s time to renew, but “the market is the market,” he said. “Anthropologie is a great tenant. It’s wonderful to have this store in Portland, but I don’t think Anthropologie defines the market.”


Craig said if he were a landlord there, he’d be happy to get $14 per square foot for that basement space, although he acknowledges there can be other factors landlords consider in lease negotiations, such as whether a tenant pays its rent on time.

“They should easily be able to make a deal,” he said. “I’d take $14 all day, it’s more the market. … The other thing is everyone loves Videoport!”

Customers at Videoport on Thursday, including Craig, were not happy to hear that Videoport may not be able to stay in its current space.

Chad Jones, a Falmouth resident who has been a Videoport customer since the store opened, called it “an Old Port institution.”

He used to work at Silly’s, which at the time was on Cumberland Avenue, and remembers trading food for movies with Videoport staff in the early 1990s. While those days are long gone, he has fond memories of the store and its “oddball” assortment of films. On Thursday afternoon he was walking out with a DVD of “High Sierra,” a 1941 film starring Humphrey Bogart.

“Try finding that at Best Buy!” said Jones, who acknowledged he isn’t much of an online person.


His first thought when he heard that the building owner was advertising the space to other tenants was, “Where would I go to get a movie?”

Ryan Hall, a South Portland resident and manager of Portland Dry Goods on Commercial Street, was taking a break to walk up to Videoport to return two movies, “Fury” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” He said it would be “sad” to lose Videoport and echoed Jones’ love for the store’s selection.

“It has a really good selection and really friendly people down there,” said Hall, who has been a customer since he moved to the area seven years ago. “I’d be really disappointed if it wasn’t here. There aren’t many of these places left.”


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