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Emerald City Video's Jim Loperfido closes one door, opens some others

On Oscar Night at the Eastwood Palace, Owen Shapiro confided that he'd made a stop at Emerald City Video himself earlier that day.

"I got three seasons of Stargate on DVD," said the founder of Syracuse International Film Festival, his eyes widening. "I was really pleased!"

Central New York film buffs have been trekking to Emerald City on Erie Blvd. East all month for the 25-year-old store's going-out-of-business sale, which ends this week along with the lease. Owner Jim Loperfido, who lives in Auburn, is also an accountant and it's tax season, so this has been something of an endurance race for him even though his son Jay and his wife Rita have been rivaling his own long hours.

Loperfido also sits on the board of the Syracuse International Film festival and has been significantly involved in both the nascent Film City Center, a festival off-shoot to bring film production to Syracuse, and he heads the festival's DVD distribution project. He also founded the Auburn Cinefile Society, and he has been at the fore-front nationally of independent video dealers' efforts to regulate and lobby for their industry. In 2005, Emerald City Video was voted the best video store in the United States.

Recently Loperfido sat back from his make-shift desk, set up in what was the foreign films section at Emerald City, and recollected that quarter century and what led up to it. Here's part of that conversation:

NKR: Emerald City Video started 25 years ago but wasn't always here -- did this store actually start in Auburn?

JL: Yes it was first there. Our first store was built in 1983. And it was the old Schine's art deco movie theater in Auburn. When I was a kid, every Saturday morning my dad would drop my brother and I off for the matinee. We lived there! When I was a young man, older, big screen movies theaters were going broke and that was vacant. Some people took it into a night club, and it was too expensive to heat. I just thought it would make one heck of a video store, so I made a deal with the owner. For a while we showed movies on Thursday afternoons for him, and he allowed us to have it for a video store. We ran that video store a little over eleven years. Then I sold it to my partner. My consulting business had taken off and I was doing very well and I thought, well, maybe now's the time, I should move out of this, that I enjoy just a little too much.

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