Jun 9, 2022 - Things to Do

Free movie stand near Eastern Market doubles as creative hub

Danny Gianino peers inside the Blockbuster stand

Danny Gianino peers inside the Blockbuster stand at 3434 Russell St. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

The city's only free "Blockbuster" stand is a hit among movie buffs.

Why it matters: The blue and yellow "take a movie, leave a movie" box has become a coveted spot.

  • People leave free stickers and giveaway items for others to grab, while few regulars leave their own mixtapes of chopped up VHS movies and commercials.

The intrigue: More than a year ago, Detroit filmmaker Jim Toscano found the weathered box in an old strip mall. "It was empty, except for a tall boy can of Modello beer," Toscano says.

  • The stand is filled with VHS tapes which Toscano thinks are making a comeback. "There's a tangible thing going on where people just want to put their hands on physical media — it's nostalgic," he tells Axios.
  • The box now stands outside the building owned by Toscano and business partner Danny Gianino at 3434 Russell St. near Eastern Market, where it's remained stocked since March.
  • The two are the founders of production company Free Age.

What he's saying: "When we first put it out, we didn't quite know what to expect. We didn't know if it would take off or not, but it totally has," Toscano says. "The coolest thing about it is that people are super respectful… Sometimes I walk in in the morning and can tell someone was just there, tidying up."

💭 Sam's thought bubble: I took a trip down memory lane when Jim told me the most sought after items are VHS tapes of recorded TV shows containing old network promos and commercials from the 90s and 2000s.

Of note: The world's last real Blockbuster video store in Bend, Oregon, was the subject of a 2020 Netflix documentary.


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