After losing Westside icons like Rhino and Penny Lane Records in the past couple years, I expect few other than yours truly will express a pang of loss Monday when the Suncoast Motion Picture Company store at Westside Pavillion closes its doors for the last time. But, for those of us in Generation X, who grew up in shopping malls (see Fast Times at Ridgemont High ), the Suncoast video store is as much an icon of Americana as foodcourt fixtures like Orange Julius and Hot Dog On A Stick, both of which have also faded from many mall environments (much to the pleasure of diet-watchers and fashion police everywhere, if not hot dog aficionados).
Suncoast is no Laser Blazer, to be sure, and if one of them had to shutter its doors, I wouldn't hesitate to point an executioner's finger at Suncoast. But, unlike the late-fee tyrants at Blockbuster, which has closed so many blue buildings on the Westside in recent months that I've lost count, Suncoast didn't appear to hurt anyone. It wasn't the sort of place I sought out to purchase movies, but rather, a place to wander, and make impulse purchases. Indeed, since the Barnes and Noble bookstore closed to accomodate the renovation of the mall's wing west of Westwood Boulevard, Suncoast was the last pleasurable place to wander before, and after, a movie at Westside Pavillion Cinemas. Of course, a new movie megaplex is coming to the mall later this year, and Barnes and Noble is expected to reopen in its old location at the corner of Pico and Westwood boulevards. Six months from now, who will miss Suncoast? Still, it's worthy of note as it was likely the scene of more than a few teenage love-at-first-sight encounters, and maybe even a few breakups. We mark our lives with places like this, where we were when she said "lets slow down and just be friends," where we got up the courage to ask for a phone number, or even where we could count on escape when the wife said "just let me run in Nordstrom and look at shoes for a minute."
An employee at the Suncoast at Westside Pavillion told me today (Saturday) that the mall decided not to renew the store's lease. Suncoast, the employee said, communicated no current plans to the staff about re-opening the store somewhere else (Suncoast has been bounced around between owners the past few years, but still has about 170 stores nationwide, including one at Fox Hills Mall in Culver City).