Dave’s Movie Center and Romantic Supermart, known locally as Dirty Dave's, was a downtown Bangor staple since the 1980s.
Dave's Movie Center and Romantic Supermart in Bangor has closed. Credit: Emily Burnham / BDN

After around 40 years in business, Dave’s Movie Center and Romantic Supermart in Bangor has closed for business.

While calls to the number listed for the business were not returned as of Tuesday morning, the outgoing voicemail message at the Hammond Street movie rental and adult store said that it was closed for good. It’s not known the exact date that it permanently closed, but it was at least within the past month.

April Pratt, owner of the building at 281 Hammond St., declined to comment.

With the closure of Dave’s, there are officially no more video rental stores in the Bangor area. The closest video rental store is Opera House Video in Belfast, and the only other one still open in Maine is Video Habits in Rangeley. There are also no remaining brick-and-mortar adult novelty stores in Bangor, as that industry has largely shifted to online shopping as well.

A staple of the downtown Bangor area since the early 1980s, Dave’s started as a video rental store at 281 Hammond St., owned and operated by Dave Lawler, who died in 2018. By the early 1990s, Lawler had opened three more Dave’s Movie Centers on State Street in Bangor, and in Old Town and Skowhegan, as VCRs and later DVD players became more and more ubiquitous. In addition to the latest titles to be released on VHS, it also bought and sold tapes and offered tape and VCR cleaning, and rented video games and consoles.

Clipping from the Feb. 27, 1988 Bangor Daily News.

As was often the case with video rental stores both large and small throughout the country, Dave’s also had a section for adult movies. Eventually, the shop also began selling adult “novelty” items, including sex toys and other products. By the time video rental stores began to decline in the late 2000s as streaming video rose to popularity, “Dirty Dave’s,” as it was colloquially known in the Bangor area, was more well known for its extensive selection of products catering to all manner of sexual proclivity.

A Dave’s Movie Center employee dresses some mannequins for the holiday season on Dec. 2, 2009, in Bangor. Credit: Bridget Brown / BDN

Though a visit inside Dave’s was a rite of passage for many people who had just turned 18 years old in the Bangor area, passersby could get a sense of what it was like inside by the ever-changing costumes worn by the mannequins in the front windows of the building. Staff members changed the costumes with the season, for St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween and Christmas.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.