FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOCAL CINEMA TO OPEN CHARITY VIDEO SHOP
“HelpFlix” will donate to multiple local non-profits
[Gloucester, MA * August 16, 2021] — “I can’t believe I’ve been at this for 35 years,” marvels Cape Ann Community Cinema founder Robert Newton, “and I can’t believe I’m going back to the beginning.”
Newton’s beginning, in 1986, was a high school job working at Hamilton Video, the Hamilton, Mass. mom-and-pop video shop on Bay Road that he eventually bought (with his college tuition money) in 1990. The 700 sq. ft. rental store featured a collection of 1,500 VHS tapes (and a handful of LaserDiscs), and was a gateway to ownership of three additional stores, with the juggernaut Starship Video in Worcester, MA selling to since-defunct chain Hollywood Video in 2003. The eBay business he started in 1997 called SpaceMonkey Video exists to this day.
“During the Lockdown, our Cinema became 100% virtual,” he explains of the online-only offerings since March 2020, “and we needed to pay the bills when revenue dropped by more than 95% over pre-Pandemic. We converted the DVD lending library we had been building from patron donations into an online auction inventory, the proceeds of which we began donating to our favorite local non-profit, The Open Door.”
While Newton has plans to revive Cape Ann Community Cinema—the “couch theater” he opened in Gloucester in 2007––in some form after the effects of the Pandemic ebb (a theoretical partnership with Rockport’s long-running Little Art Cinema being what he calls “a perfect fit”), his here-and-now concerns “HelpFlix,” a small for-charity video boutique in Rockport. The store adjoins the Cinema’s home office upstairs at 37 Whistlestop Mall, and is situated above the former IGA supermarket in a quaint, theme-park-styled walkthrough collection of office and retail suites.
HelpFlix’s slogan—“Films, Hope & Charity”—is its focus, selling movies on DVD and Blu-ray (and strangely enough, VHS again) and rehabbed tech of all sorts to give aid and hope to those in need in the Cape Ann towns of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester-By-The-Sea and its bordering towns of Beverly, Hamilton, Wenham, and Ipswich. It will feature an inventory of about 6,000 movies when it opens on Saturday, September 18 at 12pm, boasting considerably more than Netflix’s roughly 3,700. DVDs will cost just $3 each or 2 for $5, with VHS priced lower, and Blu-ray slightly higher. The store will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm-6pm (with weekday hours a possibility in the future), and is online at www.HelpFlix.org.
The majority of the inventory will come from donations from the community, with weekly donation drop-offs every Saturday from 12pm-3pm through September 11, and pick-ups by appointment. HelpFlix accepts donations of DVDs, Blu-rays, and VHS, as well as CDs, LPs, and books (regardless of whether or not they are movie-related). HelpFlix is also always on the lookout for working DVD, Blu-ray, and VHS players, as well as stereo receivers and speakers, cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, video games on disc and cartridge, MP3 players, and fitness trackers. All tech donations will be cleaned and restored, and then made available in the appropriately-named “Room of Lazarus.” Some tech will be donated directly to those in need on a case-by-case basis.
“Charity has always been an element of all my businesses,” notes Newton, “but now, it’s out front where it can do the most good.”
HelpFlix has selected a “Top 12” local non-profits that will receive an equal share of 100% of the profits made through in-store sales. Online sales will continue to benefit The Open Door and Cape Ann Community Cinema’s own non-profit, the indie cinema service organization OurTown Cinemas. HelpFlix’s Top 12 non-profits are: The North Shore Health Project, Ocean Alliance, Cape Ann Animal Aid, Action, Inc., Pathways For Children, Rocky Neck Art Colony, The Gloucester Writers Center, The Grace Center, Backyard Growers, SeniorCare, Inc., The Gloucester Education Foundation, and Cape Ann Wildlife. More organizations will be added as business increases, and private shopping parties with movies, music, classic video games, and food and drink are available weeknights to any organization (with 100% of that night’s profits going directly to that organization).
“I miss the Cinema,” Newton says wistfully, “but this is a way I can continue to directly deliver the kind of service and selection to my many friends and generous supporters on Cape Ann and the North Shore, which is something they have come to expect over the last decade-and-a-half.”
And speaking of delivering, HelpFlix offers a monthly, hand-picked 10-movie “FlixBrix” subscription in a category of your choice—plus popcorn and candy—for just $24.99, delivered to your door. Any movie you don’t want to keep (or gift to a friend) you can either donate back to HelpFlix or redeem for store credit. Additionally, CACC patrons can redeem their unused discount tickets and debit cards for HelpFlix movies.***
The Cape Ann Community Cinema has presented over 1,200 films to Cape Ann and North Shore audiences since its founding in 2007, bringing people together via hosted screenings with award-winning filmmakers. Famous patron Liv Ullmann once said of this humble movie loft, “Bergman would have loved this place!” Founder Robert Newton is a veteran film critic, award-winning writer and novelty recording artist, and is going back to school full-time this fall to fulfill his dream of becoming a middle school teacher.