Beloved by Dartmouth students for its eclectic array of College memorabilia and vintage records, the Hanover poster store International DVD and Poster will close its current South Main Street location on Oct. 31, change ownership and relocate to a storefront on Main Street.
Current owner Ken Gorlin, who first opened the store in 2003 primarily to sell DVDs and CDs before online streaming services became popular, will retire when the lease of the store’s current location ends in October.
Longtime store manager Bryan Smith, who will take over the business, said he plans to move the store to a new location that “will be visible to anyone walking down Main Street.”
Smith said he is working with a landlord and hopes to sign a lease by the end of this week. He declined to disclose the store’s potential new address prior to signing the lease. Property manager of the current space Jay Campion said that “after the poster store is out and it’s all cleaned up,” he’ll post the property as available to rent.
Smith cited high rent, combined with a decrease in sales and lack of customer traffic at the current location, as factors that prompted the store’s relocation. He explained that while the landlord did not charge rent in April or May due to town regulations at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the store was expected to repay that rent in the fall.
“Our biggest problem was paying rents and trying to get people through town,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the store only made 28 transactions in the weekend before the first day of classes this fall — down from 146 transactions last year. He noted that the average volume of a student’s purchase also dropped from $22 per sale last year to $12.50 per sale this year, adding that his business took a hit with the decline in tourism and prospective students’ visits.
Due to the smaller size of the new location, Smith said that he will be “more selective” about the new store’s inventory, focusing less on selling DVDs and CDs and more on posters and potentially tapestries. He added that Gorlin will bring some of the current store’s CDs, DVDs and vinyl records home to sell through an online ordering system.
Currently, the store’s inventory includes CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, general and Dartmouth-themed posters and other Dartmouth memorabilia, such as pieces of goalposts taken down from a Harvard versus Dartmouth football game. Dartmouth student artists have also designed posters for the store, according to Smith.
Zoe Marzi ’22, who frequents the store, said she has been impressed with the store’s selection of merchandise.
“It's just a really cool place that has so many random things in there,” Marzi said, “There's something for everyone, in that it's always been a very neat place to take a moment for yourself, even if you're going with friends, and slow down and look through all of the different … memorabilia that the owners collected over the years.”
In addition to its merchandise, the store has drawn a loyal customer base of Dartmouth students due to Smith’s outgoing personality. Marzi fondly recounted the conversations she has had with Smith.
“[Smith] is a super nice guy who always strikes up a conversation when you're there, either looking around or when he’s getting a poster for you,” she said.
As the poster store enters its next phase, Smith, who has been striking up conversations since he joined the store’s staff in 2003, said that bonding with generations of Dartmouth students has been one of the most rewarding aspects of his job.
“I call it being Uncle Charlie,” he said. “I meet with prospective students. They come back [and say] ‘I got [in]!’ And then they keep popping in about once a year, once a term, and we just catch up.”