Ragtag prepares for True/False

A new location signals bright future for local businesses.
The new Ragtag Cinemacafé location on Hitt Street is home to two auditoriums and Uprise Bakery. 9th Street Video will also be moved into the new location.

Ragtag Cinemacafé and Uprise Bakery employees can be found working in full swing this week as they prepare their new location for the True/False Film Fest. Ragtag opened its doors on Friday at its new location on Hitt Street, where it will soon be under the same roof as 9th Street Video. Before its first viewing at 4:30 p.m., a light crowd sprinkled the new tables and bar in the large, naturally lit space.

“We can have so many people back here at the movies and you don’t feel it in the building,” Ragtag co-owner Sarah Bantz said. “It doesn’t feel like really crowded and that’s so different from our old place where you can feel it everywhere.”

During the opening weekend, Ragtag pulled in twice as many moviegoers as they could at the previous location, according to the owners. The first movie shown was Todd Haynes’ “I’m Not There,” a Bob Dylan biography. Bantz and co-owner Paul Sturtz introduced the film in the new location’s larger theater in front of a new white canvas screen to an audience ranging from young to old sitting in new folding chairs. Bantz and Strutz pointed out the irony behind showing a Todd Haynes film for the opening of their second location - the first film shown at the former location was Haynes’ “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.”

Bantz and Sturtz also informed the audience of a campaign seeking donations from patrons to afford better seating. A nonprofit organization, the Ragtag has thrived in downtown Columbia, amid possible competition from chain-operated theaters Hollywood Stadium 14 Theaters and Forum 8, Bantz said. Capital campaigns made the move possible after it was initiated a few years ago.

“We’re all really thrilled with how things are turning out and how it’s going,” Bantz said. “It’s a little discombobulated, but we’re getting there.”

With the new space, Ragtag employee Gabriel Wallace had more room to issue movie tickets, with the addition of a small wooden booth for a box office. Wallace is one of the few people left from the original opening of Ragtag.

“Yes it’s a big deal for us,” Wallace said. “There’s the business and the nonprofit entity of Ragtag cinema. We think of it as a cultural mission to the city and the community and so we’re able to do a lot more work rather than just running a movie theater with the nonprofit sense. And it also helped us buy this building and get the money to do all this work.”

Uprise Bakery employee Meghan Gilliss said she has become excited as developments progressed in the past few months.

“It’s so beautiful,” Gilliss said. “Now for our sake it should be so nice to have daylight pouring in here and everything is just so pretty that I’m really excited about getting in here. I think people will come around.”

Just down the street is also Hitt Street parking garage, which Bantz said is nice because it’s closest they’ve ever been to a large parking space.

“We just outgrew our space,” Bantz said. “A lot of people are concerned about the parking, but once they see how nice it is, I think people will be willing to make the extra block.”

Uprise Bakery moved in to the building Monday and 9th Street Video will follow next month as the last installment.

The Ragtag’s new location also features two screens scheduled to present documentaries during the True/False Film Fest this upcoming weekend.

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