(Kris King stands in the center of the Naro video collection at ODU’s Perry Library.) 

Words & Photo by Jim Roberts

Naro Expanded Video’s collection of 43,000 DVDs has been lovingly preserved at Old Dominion University’s Perry Library, but touring the new academic space is a reminder that the people who worked at the store were as critical to the Naro experience as the films themselves.

Enter Kris King.

“I’m the film sicko that they brought on board here,” he said during a March 6 media preview of the collection.

“I’m a Hampton Roads kid,” he explained. “I started off as a video store rat. My dad would always take me to the video store—Got It Video in Churchland. As I got a little bit older … that’s when I started to make the hike over into Norfolk and got into the weeds at the Naro.”

As an adult, King worked as a projectionist in New York, but he moved home during the COVID-19 pandemic and landed a dream job curating the film collection for ODU.

While he’s chosen to display most of the films by genre, he’s proud of a special section called “Spotlight.”

“For this opening round,” he said, “we have selections from Tim Cooper from the store, William Laderberg from the store, Erik Swallow from the store, Patrick Taylor from the store.

“We also have contributions from Kent Wascom, who teaches in English for ODU, and we have a selection from Najmeh Moradiyan-Rizi, who is our film studies professor,” he said. “We rotate these out every month—to try to keep things topical, interesting, and try to give it that kind of personal touch that the store always had.”

Cooper and Linda McGreevy closed the iconic video store in 2019 and donated the collection to ODU a year later. It has taken nearly four years to catalog all the films and prepare the space for students, faculty and now, the public.

McGreevy, who retired from ODU in 2012 after 33 years in the art department, wasn’t able to attend the media event, but she told a university publication in 2020: “ODU treated me very well, so I should give them something of myself. We just couldn’t let the community that loved us so much … be bereft of it.”

Now that community is collaborating to share the collection with the public. Richard Nickel, an art professor, created signage that is evocative of the store. Peter Schulman, a professor of world languages and cultures, recently donated scripts and other artifacts owned by his father, screenwriter Arnold Schulman.

There’s even a display case with Naro Video discount cards and the carbon copy rental agreements.

“I think it’s a really exciting step forward,” Tim Hackman, dean of ODU Libraries, said. “The ODU community has really embraced it.

“Longer term,” he said, “we’re really hoping to continue to transform it into the kind of community space that the Naro video store was, where folks from all over can gather, learn from each other and get support from each other.”

Coming soon: The library is planning to display items owned by Mal Vincent, who was a film critic at The Virginian-Pilot for more than 40 years.

“There’s publicity photos, there’s signed autographs,” Hackman said. “We took 12, 15 boxes—whatever I could fit in my car … we’re trying to figure out what we want to put out. … I expect that folks will—once they realize we’re kind of becoming the center for film studies—they’ll be like, ‘Hey, this would be a great place to archive that stuff so future researchers can get to it.’ So that’s been very cool.”

The Perry Library is located on West 43rd Street between Hampton Boulevard and Elkhorn Avenue. Members of the public can check out movies and more by joining Friends of the ODU Libraries, which offers two membership categories: a $50 basic membership for a single cardholder and a $100 family membership for up to four family members. For more information, visit odu.edu/library.