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Impulse Video survives by offering what Netflx can't, owner Karen Schnoll says

IPHOTO BY BILL GALLAGHER - Impulse Video owner Karen Schoff poses at the counter of her Hillsdale store and shows off a couple of her favotie holiday movies.mpulse Video owner Karen Schnoll barely gives it a second thought when asked about the top rentals this time of year.

"'Home Alone,' 'Home Alone 2,' 'The Santa Clause,' 'Love Actually' (really!), 'The Grinch' (with Jim Carrey, of course), 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' and 'It's A Wonderful Life,'" she says. "Oh and 'Die Hard.'"

With that, Schnoll heads up and down the aisles of her shop in Hillsdale to check the shelves for the movies she's forgotten.

"'Four Christmases,' 'Miracle On 34th Street' (has to be the original),  a foreign Christmas movie from Finland, that one with Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito. And can't forget 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," she says.

Her personal favorite? "It's A Wonderful Life," which she says she's seen "at least 20 times."

Schnoll welcomes the boost that the holidays give to her business, but she says she wishes we weren't seeing so many sunny days in late November.and early December,  "Good rainy weekends really help me," she says with a chuckle.

Insist on the original:  Miracle On 34th Street.In mid-November, Impulse Video officially became one of the two best video rental stores in Portland. That's because it also became one of only two such stores left inside the city limits.

"Yeah, Clinton Street Video is out of business, so it's just us and Movie Madness," says Schnoll.

She's happy to list the benefits of renting videos from her rather than from Redbox or Netflix or other streaming operations.

"Most of the movies we rent include director interviews, deleted scenes, gag reels, bonus features and second discs to give you more context," she says with the passion of a true cinephile. And there's the experience of going to a neighborhood store, scanning the shelves and choosing what you will take home to watch, she says.

One Yelp reviewer wrote of the Impulse Video experience, "I love getting to relive the fun of going and picking out movies on a Friday afternoon."  Another wrote, "I miss having video stores like this."

Schnoll says one father who brought his kids in told her, "I told my kids your store is kind of like a library and they were excited to pick out their own movies or shows."

Then there's the dad who uses Impulse to teach life lessons.

"I had a customer in a month or so ago who's the father of a third- or fourth-grade son. He says he brings him in here to teach him patience and perseverance," she says.

The dad explained to Schnoll, "We come in for the movie we want, but it's checked out. So you have to wait until it comes back or choose something else. That's patience."

As for perseverance, "he noticed with his kids that when they were watching somehing online, they would watch for 11 minutes, give up, switch to something else for a while and give up again. But when they rent a movie, they watch it to the end."

Impulse Video is located at 6356 S.W. Capitol Highway. Learn more at impulsevideo.net.

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