View Full Version : Favorite Video Stores of the Past

Brian Linn
01-04-2007, 03:05 PM
I just wanted to hear some stories from you fellas (and maybe a gal as well) regarding some of your favorite video stores of the past. I always just love reading the stories that people share regarding their experiences when renting the big boxed classics ages ago.

Growing up in S.E. PDX, I had quite a few choices. One of my favorites was Allen Video on around 65th and S.E. Foster Rd. It was housed in a large historic storefront and covered in bright yellow paint. You can still see the sign on the side of the building, "Allen Video" and something like "$5.00 Phones" written beneath it. During it's hayday, they had a huge stock of big boxed gems, and a nice healthy selection of NES games. I remember going in there and renting "Tecmo Bowl" several times as well as the best fishing game ever, "Black Bass".

They had their video boxes out, and underneath it, was a little metallic circle hanging from a hook. Written on the circle was the title and number which you would take to the cashier to get your tape.

The weird thing about "Allen Video" was that they sold phones as well..not cellphones, but old school rotary phones for $5.00. I think they also sold old comic books that were just sitting out in long white boxes for customers to dig through on their way to the checkout counter. For a young kid, this was a great place to hang out. I remember venturing to the back and trying to peek into their adult section, but never having the balls to actually step through those swinging western saloon doors.

The only other place in S.E. Portland was Tom Peterson's. Yes, Tom Peterson's, the guy who coined the phrase "Wake up, Wake up", used to rent both VHS and Beta tapes. They carried a pretty healthy amount of NES games, and I remember being transfixed on the VHS tape of "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie". Where was I when this thing was in the theaters, and why am I just seeing it now? When Tom Peterson's closed their video tape rentals, and this was prior to the "Blockbuster/Hollywood Video boom", I went in their with my mother and bought "Life of Brian" for her and "Strange Brew" for me, only costing us $30.00 for the two!! What a deal! At least we felt that way in 1990. The "Strange Brew" box was incredible! A giant carbboard monstrosity that housed the tape in the inside and a little swinging cardboard door that had the cast credits printed on the inside. The cover was gorgeous!

So, if anyone has any memories of their favorite old school viddy store, please share them :)

Ian Jane
01-04-2007, 03:08 PM
Was this the same Tom Peterson who know sells shitty furniture out on SE 82nd?

Alyss N.
01-04-2007, 03:12 PM
Mine was called Leisure Video. Man, those were the days. I swear I was the only person who ever went downstairs not to rent porn. (horror was downstairs too.)

I just had a dream about one of the guys from there the other night. And the place closed like ten years ago. Yes, those indeed were the days.

Mike Brown
01-04-2007, 03:18 PM
Many. I worked at a big Camelot Music store in the early 80's. I rented the old Video Disks (not laser) from them before I switched to VHS.

Upon moving to Wilmington, NC, I rented almost exclusively from School Kids Records. I remember having to spend $25 for a damn membership. They stocked some cool titles though. A lot of the Rent-To-Own shops down there rented videos too.

Eventually, BallBuster and Hollywood Video took over. Now, when I want to rent, I go to a cool semi-independent shop called Visart here in Charlotte. They have just about the best selection I've ever seen.

Todd J
01-04-2007, 03:18 PM
When I was a teenager I used to go to my neighorhood store (well, the only store in my town of 1,000). They had so much cool stuff...tons of horror and exploitation. The woman behind the counter used to let me rent porn since I was 14, and she used to actually help me pick them out because she watched them too. It was quite erotic for a 14-18 year old. Good memories.

Brian Linn
01-04-2007, 03:24 PM
Was this the same Tom Peterson who know sells shitty furniture out on SE 82nd?

Yes, the very same one. Back in the day, Tom Peterson had an empire on 82nd. He owned three buildings (a furniture store, an appliance store, and an electronics store that housed the video store), and at his peak, owned two superstores in other areas of town. Now it's just one little store in an old post office just off of 82nd.

And he was also a huge sponsor of Portland wrestling back in the mid 80s and has cameos in a few of Gus Van Sant's earlier films.

Derek Steckler
01-04-2007, 05:56 PM
When I was 10-14 years old (80's) I used to go to Errol's video in Bethesda, MD. They cut the video boxes apart and put the artwork into their nice big padded red boxes. This was a pretty big chain that was later bought up by schlockbuster. Every time I came in the box for Color Me Blood Red was turned backwards. I always turned it forwards so the world could see the beautiful disembowling scene. At 14 I discovered Video Vault in DC, rented Cannibal Holocaust, exploitation trailer comps etc and the rest is history.

Ian Miller
01-04-2007, 06:55 PM
Allen Telephone Products RULED! There was a mannequin in a gorilla suit out front. When they were closing up shop, that's where I scored my Paragon VIOLENT PROFFESSIONALS tape. Hell yeah!

Most of my small shop renting was from Universal Video on 21st and West Burnside, then it was 1st Stop on Hawthorne (and the even better location on Barbur) as well as the Beaverton Blockbuster, back in the late '80's. Later on, my neighborhood shop was American Family on 20th and East Burnside, then I got my first Movie Madness account......................

Ian Jane
01-04-2007, 07:08 PM
I went to American Family on 20th and E. Burnside when I lived on Ankeny five years or so ago. That place was pretty decent, but yeah, nothing compares to Movie Madness.

I still say we need to make a pilgramige to the porno barn by your place one of these days.

Fred Adelman
01-04-2007, 08:12 PM
My favorite local video store just had a sign the said "VIDEO" and was run by a couple of Italians who hardly spoke any English. All their rentals were $2.00 for 3 days and they had an extensive amount of Italian-language tapes and I got to see CUT AND RUN, PATRICK LIVES AGAIN and many other Italian films uncut and in their original language. The owners even took some time to teach me the basics of Italian so I could understand the films better. Then Blockbuster opened a store about a mile away and drove them out of business.

There was another store called DOLLAR VIDEO that would order any film I asked for that wasn't in their inventory. They got NECROMANTIK and a bunch of Something Weird titles on my suggestion. They got into some trouble with NECRO though, as a kid rented it and took it home to the shock of his parents. I should have told them that it was hardcore horror. Oh, well.

Brian Linn
01-04-2007, 11:25 PM
That sounded like an awesome store Fred. The problem with living in a middle sized community is the lack of foreign video stores. We used to have a ton of Chinese video stores here in the Portland area, but after DVD, piracy, and the Internet, they all evaporated. In fact I think the inventory for most of the Chinese video stores in Portland ended up at the Burnside Hollywood Video.

There was a mannequin in a gorilla suit out front

That's right! I remember that mannequin. I think they might have dressed it in coveralls and on those special days, placed a hat on it's head. I remember they had that thing chained up so NOBODY ran off with it.

porno barn

Porno barn?? Where the hell is that?

Fred Adelman
01-04-2007, 11:56 PM
That sounded like an awesome store Fred. The problem with living in a middle sized community is the lack of foreign video stores. We used to have a ton of Chinese video stores here in the Portland area, but after DVD, piracy, and the Internet, they all evaporated. In fact I think the inventory for most of the Chinese video stores in Portland ended up at the Burnside Hollywood Video.

The funny thing about the store is that there wasn't a great deal of Italians in my town to justify renting Italian videos. The store was popular though until Blockbuster came in and drove all the mom-and-pop stores out of business. The Italian couple were nice, friendly and always willing to help. See if you get that kind of service at big chains. I stopped renting years ago (saw no use in it since DVDs were so cheap), so I guess that I am also a contributing factor in rental stores going DOA. When I retire, I think I'll open up a video rental store for all the people who remember the good old days. I'll rent VCRs as well as tapes and DVDs.

Think that will fly?

Damian P
01-05-2007, 12:36 AM
Mine was a place called Video Village. It was the first video store I signed up with. They let me rent porn when I was 14. :eek: I rented a lot of Ginger Lynn, Amber Lynn, Traci Lords and Barbara Dare movies when I wasn't renting horror. I was such a goob.

They also gave me video props and posters (I was their best customer). Some stuff I later sold for a decent amount of money.

Damian P
01-05-2007, 12:41 AM
T When I retire, I think I'll open up a video rental store for all the people who remember the good old days. I'll rent VCRs as well as tapes and DVDs.

Think that will fly?

Oh sure. ;)

I actually rented a DVD player from a video rental store. Well, I needed something to watch my RABID DOGS DVD on. :D

Earl Roesel
01-05-2007, 10:45 AM
and I remember being transfixed on the VHS tape of "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie". Where was I when this thing was in the theaters, and why am I just seeing it now?

I wanted to see that one too, back in the day. As I recall, they ultra-hyped it for about a week before it totally disappeared from theaters (at least in the Cincinnati area).

Zounds...I'm going to get really wistful now. In the 80s and early 90s, my video store was Rob's. They had one outlet in Newport, KY, and (I think) one in nearby Latonia. The former was my haunt. It was a relatively small place, but stuffed to the gills with wonderment. My earliest memories of the place are going in search of the old Universal horror films; they had the complete early-30s triumvirate: THE MUMMY, DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN. My mother would take me back each week to rent them. Eventually it was deemed more cost-effective to simply buy the things for me outright...at a price tag of $99 each. But I treasured 'em for years, the cover art cut apart and pasted on one of those big boxes, until Universal came out with their all-new line of classic horror videos in 1993 or so and those three along with many others became readily available at a reasonable price.

A little later on, when I got my NES, Rob's became the place to go for game rental. I remember grabbing Zombie Nation (and damn that was a weird one), Darkman, River City Ransom and Kharkov along with many others. They even had those religious titles from Wisdom Tree with the "unofficial" light blue cartridges, the ones where you had to save Baby Moses and such.

I was once given a list of the children's videos available there and, totally at random, chose one called WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY...this too became a weekly rental ritual and everlasting favorite of mine. In the case of this, however, we were fortunate enough to eventually find a copy at Sam's for sale.

My warmest memories are of the surprises Ma would bring home on the weekend for me. You never knew what you would get but she had great taste: every single one of them resonate nostalgically with me today. Through her I saw TROLL, TROLL 2, THE MONSTER SQUAD, FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, MAC AND ME, THE WIZARD, a Ted Newsom documentary called MONSTERS AND MANIACS. Wonderful stuff.

Being a mere beardless lad at the time, I never went "upstairs" (not really a second floor; merely a dais behind the shelves and a curtain). From what I gather, this is where you'd have found the after-hours entertainment.

When Blockbuster came into town (I was about 12) Rob's days were of course numbered. We moved on to them without a twinge of guilt...shame, shame. The first tapes I got from them were ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN and HOORAY FOR HORRORWOOD, the latter a documentary about Forry Ackerman. Odd to think that man, once so seemingly distant and untouchable, has become my dear and official uncle. What changes ten or so years can bring!

Ian Jane
01-05-2007, 11:20 AM
Porno barn?? Where the hell is that?

About 3 blocks from Ian Miller's house! haha. I think it's on Foster but I could be wrong, cross st. is roughly 110 on the SE side. It's an adult video store inside what appears to have once been a barn. If it's half as cool on the inside as it appears to be on the outside, it's the best place ever.

I have to go there.

Matt A
01-05-2007, 11:59 AM
About 3 blocks from Ian Miller's house! haha. I think it's on Foster but I could be wrong, cross st. is roughly 110 on the SE side. It's an adult video store inside what appears to have once been a barn. If it's half as cool on the inside as it appears to be on the outside, it's the best place ever.

I have to go there.

Did we see that on the way to the airport?

Christoffer S
01-05-2007, 12:36 PM
I still go to the same places as I did when I first moved to this town, except one that is now closed. Video West (I actually frequent 2 of their 4 locations) and the big one on Kingsstreet which opened a few years ago.

At these locations combined I can pretty much find anything released on DVD in this country and plenty of old classics on VHS.

As for purchasing I only do so online nowadays.

Ian Jane
01-05-2007, 12:43 PM
Did we see that on the way to the airport?

I don't think so, no. We might have seen it when we went to pick up Miller that day though.

Ted Cogswell
01-05-2007, 02:12 PM
Video Bazzar in Metuchen, NJ is where I became a "VHS Maniac". A truly great store run by an obsessive film fanatic who had a "Cult" section that would still impress today.

When I moved to Seattle, of course I was blown away by the world renown Scarecrow Video, but my local neighborhood favorite was Video Vertigo, a great little shop with exploitation posters plastered all over the walls and a great selection of sleaze.

Sadly, neither of these stores still exist. Scarecrow is still the best in town (if not the whole west coast). In my old neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Broadway Video is still going strong as well, and I highly recommend them.

Matt A
01-05-2007, 02:18 PM
When I was 22 my girlfriend of 4 years dumped me. I moved to downtown Denver soon after and my apartment was 5 blocks from a store called Video Visions (do I even have to tell you that it's now a Blockbuster?). Anyway, at the time this girl dumped me she was going to film school in Portland, Oregon, and while enrolled there we never discussed movies much. When I asked her why she avoided that topic she told me that because I had seen so many more films than she had she felt intimidated. This, of course, fed my ego big time and after the breakup I decided that I was going to see as many films as I could and because of the vicinity of Video Visions (they had a sister store about 5 minutes away as well) I started renting 4-8 movies from them a week. This was partly to show her up (like somehow watching movies is akin to making them :rolleyes: - she eventually dropped out of film school and went into illustration anyway) and also to keep busy since I had very few friends and little money to do much outside of drink Mickey's and watch videos. I lived there for 3 years and during that time I saw everything from THE TENANT, HIGH AND LOW, and BREATHLESS to BLOOD SABBATH, COP IN BLUE JEANS, and DJANGO. I'd go through Video Watchdog and Psychotronic then head to the store and rent what I had just read about. I probably watched about 500 movies during that period.

Also during this time I purchased a laser disc player and began renting discs at two places - Laserland (where I met Jay Spear) and a place called JB&H. Both places closed around the same time and I got some great deals on used discs. I ended up selling them on eBay for a good amount of cash.

I haven't rented from a video store in about 2 years. :confused:

Marshall Crist
01-05-2007, 02:29 PM
Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, CA was pretty cool. Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary were among the staff of rabid movie buffs. (I was deemed not cool enough to work there.) On a typical visit they'd be watching something like VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS on a big screen TV and heatedly discussing Dexter Reilly movies.

Ian Miller
01-05-2007, 05:53 PM
I don't think so, no. We might have seen it when we went to pick up Miller that day though.

It's on Division, right across the street from the Rumpus Room!

Ian Jane
01-05-2007, 06:00 PM
It's on Division, right across the street from the Rumpus Room!

I think we have a new mission.

J Dewey Wallis
01-06-2007, 04:18 PM
The first cool place I went to was a furniture/appliance store (Yes, in the early 80's everyone got into the video rental business). Thhey rented cheap and had a special "rent one get one free deal" on weekends, so we'd leave with a stack of ten or twelve tapes and never see daylight all weekend. The second cool thing was the owner was Middle Eastern (?, not sure what exactly) and he had a huge stock of everything cheesy and exploitative and had imports/early boots(?) of off the wall Mondo Macabro kinda-stuff.

Then there was my first proper cult video store, a place called Evil Eye Video. The guy who ran it couldnt afford any employee's so he practically lived there. He openly drank wine all day long, so every now and then he'd be sloshed by night time and couldnt calculate your rental fee very well. He shared the space with a comic book store that shut down around 5 or 6 every night and put up a pathetic little barricade to keep the video store customers out. We, naughty teens that we were, would post a lookout, round the corner, slip over the barricade, and carefully steal comics and graphic novels (being thrifty about it too so the owner might not notice and we could come back for more). Yes, Evil Eye had a great selection, but really it was the chance to get Bloodsucking Freaks and a bunch of old X-Men comics that gave the place its charm.

Todd J
01-06-2007, 04:59 PM
I think we have a new mission.

photos please. camera phone is ok.

10-30-2010, 05:10 PM
Video Chest on Lombard. My local video store and a great selection of weird cult films. I'd pick up VHS tapes from the eighties based solely on the awesome covers, which would always be very sun-faded (odd, considering the lack of windows). A few years ago Video Chest was bought by Videorama. Still pretty good.
There's also the world famous Movie Madness across town. I love their selection, but rarely rent from them. I prefer a five day rental, damnit! I will not settle for three days.

Ian Miller
10-30-2010, 06:32 PM
Welcome aboard, Ethan!

Three years later and nothing is happening in the old Allen Telephone Products building. Such a shame, it's a beautiful curved storefront.

Alex K.
10-31-2010, 02:57 AM
There were a couple, I'm a child of the 90's so my experience will probably be different.

We had a local chain called Video King. I remember going there to rent a Tiny Toons game for the SNES. I remember the game was too hard. They had a great horror section. All the big genre franchises, all the Faces of Death Films (including the big box of Part 2 with a surgeon on the cover), I Spit on Your Grave, all of the Silent Night Deadly Night films, the Unrated cut of Dead/Alive, Fulci's Zombie, Demons, etc. Pretty much any horror franchise they had. Went through a lot of titles. They had good deals where you could rent 5 movies for the price of 3. Whenever my mother was gone me and my dad would head out there after getting pizza and he'd rent a handful of titles for me. Most memorable nights consisted of the Sleepaway Camp series, and when I rented Faces of Death 1-3 (after reading Killing for Culture) along with Clockwork Orange and Naked Lunch. I do remember renting Splatterhouse part 3 for the Genesis and loving it.

There was a Blockbuster but they had a couple of good titles. I mostly went there for games. But I do remember one night I rented Blair Witch Project on DVD and a tape of (wait for it) Burial Ground. Watched Blair Witch first and was really pissed off with it. Then I watched Burial Ground and got even more pissed off. But I did enjoy the tit-eating at the time. This was when I was 12-13 I guess. I didn't have much of a sense of humor at the time and expected all horror films to be great, I didn't appreciate 'so bad it's good' films at the time. Which is mostly what I watch now...

Many other lesser stories. I loved going to pawn shops and finding some treasures. This one I used to go to a lot is where I found Hills Have Eyes and Day of the Dead. I still regret not picking up the old Thorn-EMI tape of The Evil Dead (which I would discover later) and House of Psychotic Woman. And I still regret instead buying Joel Reeds' Night of the Zombies.

A lot of random finds from stores going out of business. Two most notable: Went to local general store that all of a sudden had a rental video section. Could never convince my parents to sign up for it. Several months later they sold off all the tapes and I distinctly remember picking up Mattei's Night of the Zombies and Scanners.

The last one ever for me was when I was 18-19 and moved to Colorado, saw a video store going out of business and picked up a nice haul: Argento's Opera (uncut), Xtro, Dr. Caligari, and Frankenhooker.

Tim Mayer
11-02-2010, 05:57 PM
Another thread similar idea:


Amazing how we all have such tales to be told.

Andrew Ellis
11-13-2010, 01:36 AM
My favorite video stores are still in business actually--Video Station in Boulder, Colorado and Casa Video in Tucson, Arizona.

Somebody was mentioning earlier (well, three years ago) Video Visions in Denver (which was just blocks from my house). There was also a place called Video One in Denver, but I bought all their interesting tapes when they foolishly transfered entirely to DVDs. I have a theory that independent video stores can only hope to compete with Blockbuster and Netflix if they remain VIDEO stores rather than sell off all their video inventory and try to go totally DVD. I'm probably wrong, but. . .

Scott MacDonald
11-13-2010, 01:59 AM
You know it's crazy, I always lament the death of video stores, and most people look at me like I'm nuts. "Well we have Netflix now, Netflix is better, you can get anything!" But I miss the sense of adventure in hunting down movies, looking at boxes trying to discern the crap from the treasure.

I remember my friends had a rule, if the cover was a gimmick, such as the Boogens or Mirror Mirror, then the movie was probably crap. In the case of the aforementioned Mirror Mirror I was quite surprised to find years later that it was decent.

I live maybe 5 miles from Scarecrow Video now, and that place has the closest approximation to everything that I would say applies to home video rental. As a kid I lived all over New Jersey before moving to Florida, so I have quite a few video store memories.

The first was a place called Videoland in Brick, NJ. It was run by my soccer coach Matt. I remember mostly renting Nintendo games like John Elway quarterback, and Kid Icarus (during my childhood bout with Chicken Pox), and a few Howdy Doody Videos. I did see horror tapes there, but my Mom wouldn't let me touch them, although she or someone in my family did buy me the F13 NES game for Xmas one year.

I moved to North Jersey (Secaucus) a few years later, and remember my little league coach (a trend maybe?) running a Deli, and in the adjacent store front he ran a video store, and that's where I landed my first horror tape. A copy of Friday the 13th Part VII, I remember hearing about Jason Takes Manhattan from a friend, and was dying to see it, but this store had a limited selection and said they couldn't get it in for me to see.

Then there was Family Video in the same town, they had all the Friday the 13ths, the Toxic Avengers, and the Killer Tomato movies. I remeber being able to rent anything except for the Robert Englund Phantom of the Opera without being questioned. Since my parents still didn't know about my horror obsession, I'd have to sneak downstairs at night to watch them, or wait until they want out.

The last really significant place for me was a chain store down the road from my house in Bradenton, FL. It was a Video Library and there horror, sci-fi, and cult sections were endless. The staff there were really awesome (one girl called me Joey Ramone bc of my shaggy hair and black t-shirts), and would let me rent anything non-pornographic that I wanted. I'm still friends with many of them to this day.

This place started a deal when I was in middle school 5 movies, 5 nights, 5 bucks, and every Friday night my friends and I would go in there to search out the stuff we hadn't seen. In the summers between 5th and 8th Grade we watched absolutely everything in their genre sections, and had gone on to war films (like the Ilsa's) and trashy comedies (like Hollywood Hot Tubs). I remember on my 18th birthday going there with a friend to rent the one title we couldn't rent bc of an 18 sticker Witchcraft VII. We had waited years to see it, needless to say that was a HUGE disappointment.

I went on vacation the next month, but got an application for employment before I left. When I came back the next week with my completed application the store was closed, and nothing was left inside. A few tapes were left by the door, rentals that never got returned I guess. There was a copy of Sleepaway Camp 2 in that stack, I kept it.

I really miss going into stores like that, never knowing the quality of a film until you start watching. In a way running ECAV the last few years has been an extension of what I loved about the video store experience. I get so many titles, that I haven't seen or even heard of, and with those I try not to look anything up on them so I can go in fresh, and keep that spirit sort of alive.

Armando Hernandez
11-13-2010, 05:38 PM
Back in the 90's when I was small, I remember always going to a video store called "Video Center" to rent 3-4 movies with my family. One movie always had to be horror and those are the ones I remember seeing all the time. I remember "Return of the Living Dead 3", "The Paperboy", "Ice Cream Man", "Pinocchio's Revenge", "The Willies", and all the Nightmare on Elm Street flicks. I also remember walking around Video Center and seeing all the crazy/cool looking VHS covers (Horror and Sex Comedy mostly) and wondering what these movies actually looked like.

Those were the days :) it's sad it's gone now but there is another Video Center here in Pomona, CA (Which has videos still) but I'm sure it's not the same one that was around back in the day.

Then there was Movie Island (still opened and has VHS tapes still) but we didn't go there anymore after a year because we never returned a tape (we wanted the movie badly, haha).

Steve R
11-13-2010, 06:16 PM
43rd Street Chamber
Right off 8th avenue in NYC.
This was the place to go for martial arts flicks and all the great stuff coming out of Hong Kong. It was very small. Two guys behind the L shaped counter and a TV screen mounted up high in the corner. All the walls were lined with titles and covers. There were more under the glass counter.

I'd always go in with a list and sure enough those guys would get much of what I was looking for. The store drew real die hard Asian film fans from all walks of life. Movie buffs and a few well known actors. It was great just to hang out there and film chat. The guys would always have a sale where if you bought 3, you got the 4th free and so on until you had bought way more than you set out to.

Once in awhile some absolute greenhorn newbie would come in there and instead of being made fun of, the crowd would seriously undertake making sure this guy got the very best he could afford. The guys behind the counter would show bits of films and we'd all get him way past that dubbed Jackie Chan title he came in for. If you just went in there and asked for that blind swordman guy thing, there'd go a good half hour from Zatoichi to the Baby Cart films to Tsui Hark's The Blade and on and on. That was a great place and the two guys who ran it were the most patient and enthusiastic counter guys in the world.

"Just get one more and the next one is on us. Let me get you a bag" :)

Andrew Ellis
11-16-2010, 02:19 PM
I remember wandering into some cool video store in Manhattan in 2003, but I can't remember what it was called or where it was. I've heard about Scarecrow Video too, even though I've never been to Seattle.

There are A LOT of movies that were released on VHS during the years that have yet to surface on DVD. A lot of video stores, active or (mostly) now-defunct, sold off these rare tapes to make room for DVDs and now to get them, you'd have to pay $50 on Amazon or Ebay. That's why I still love video stores like Casa Video or Video Station. I've rented maybe $300 worth of videos from Casa the last couple years and recorded them onto DVD-R. If I'd bought copies of them all from bootleggers, I would have paid at least $1,000. Since they were rare if I'd bought them all on-line, I might have paid $2,000 or $3,000 (in which case, I would have owned the tape, but I'm not a VHS collector per se).

Downloading may make everything virtually free someday I guess, but even then I will still miss the experience of just going into a video store!

Scott MacDonald
11-18-2010, 10:58 AM
I remember wandering into some cool video store in Manhattan in 2003, but I can't remember what it was called or where it was. I've heard about Scarecrow Video too, even though I've never been to Seattle.

Kim's Video, around St. Mark's?

Having lived in Seattle on and off for about 4 years I can say that Scarecrow has a reputation that is entirely well deserved.

Phil B.
11-18-2010, 11:57 AM
In the mid-80's through the mid-90's, I couldn't get enough of Vulcan Video in Austin. It is right off the drag, and it was like a giant candy store full of foriegn, psychotronic, bizarre offerings.

HERE (http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid:819300) is an article The Austin Chronicle did on Vulcan and I Luv Video


Garrett Sorensen
11-18-2010, 01:35 PM
When it comes to renting in my hayday (pre-18) in Redding CA, the store with the coolest looking horror covers was Wherehouse Video. I remember staring lovingly at Scared to Death (Malone) and Fulci's Zombie. After that closed I went to First Run Video (in the same shopping center) quite a lot and when that closed down I bought tons of rare stuff like The Savage Bees and Don't Be Afarid of the Dark in large cases.

Nowadays my memories are not about renting, but places I buy at and I have too many memories, 9 years worth of constant video trips to every single state but 2. There is one store in an inky dinky midwest town that is only open for a few hours a week but I have purchased around 2000 VHS over the years. The guy who owns it is a real cowboy type who owns much of the town and apparently bought out stores at a high rate before DVD came out, thus none of his VHS inventory is the newer crap. He started selling them for a $1 a few years ago and has no idea the rarity of these titles (he seems to specialize in BIG BOX horror like The Boogeyman, Lunch Meat, Mardi Gras Massacre) and I have gone back at least 4 times to pick through what he brought in from storage. Sorry, can't say any more, there is bound to be a 5th time.

I can think of literally hundreds of memorable locations over the years that thanks to me don't have much left (or have closed down) but I would suggest anyone going through Sharon PA to stop in at the movie sale place on Sharpsville Ave, I consistently come away with dozens of VHS from there. Nowadays the VHS are disappearing and the best goldmines have become very small towns, like just 5 days ago I took my wife to Muncie for a rock concert and on a lark I went to the small small small town of Eaton, IN where a guy let me browse through the VHS collection in the now defunct part of his store. I came away with The Headless Eye, Love Me Deadly and Don't Open the Door all in excellent condition BIG BOX for $1 each.

Garrett Sorensen
11-18-2010, 01:43 PM
Forgot to mention, one of the funnier experiences was and IS STILL in Garland TX on 2002 Eastgate Drive. In the front part of a porn store is thousands of VHS for sale for real cheap, but here is the ruse. They are all piled into a 6 foot cube box and to sift through it all would require possibly a couple days. It is a strange sight indeed, someone got really lazy.

Steve R
11-18-2010, 01:46 PM

I'd tune in to see a weekly reality show of you touring
the small towns of American uncovering VHS treasures.

Garrett Sorensen
11-18-2010, 02:09 PM
Unfortunately most of the footage would be me speeding to the next store listening to 70's power pop music or sleeping in the van at Walmarts. There is a great high in speeding to a dot on a map not knowing what treasure lied within the mom and pop video store (many on this thread I have been to.) I've been to many many stores that had many average quality finds so what really sticks in my mind is the places that had that one ultra rare find, like Screams of a Winter Night in Sunnyside WA, or Welcome to Arrow Beach in Cleveland. Steve, if you are ever in Philly go to the porn shop on 4837 James Street, they have a ton of VHS in a back room. I got a bunch of unwrapped mint EMI/HBO tapes there.

Getting to that last store before it closes (because I don't want to stay in the town overnight) has almost killed me a couple times. I love finding new faster routes between stores and in Kentucky one night after leaving a store in Evarts I was trying to get to Cumberland and I had 2 choices, go back 10 miles to the highway and then 15 miles the other way or take a small road SR-179 15 miles directly there. Now I should have asked why only one road connected these two places but I didn't, and thus found myself on a mountain road that went straight up (a had small radiator and thus overheated the whole way) and then down a mountainside (which I didn't know till later my back brakes were not connecting.) After almost going over the edge a few times I made it to Cumberland and even though I am not religious, outloud I told God I would never do something so stupid. The funny thing is after finding the store was a dud I took 160/463 north to a store in Jeff before it closed and that is where I almost died, on hairpin turns carrying hundreds of pounds of videos in a car with almost no breaks. Fortunately I stopped just before the edge. Now I think twice before tackling the mountains of Kentucky.

Another memorable time was going through Vermont in winter at the same time snow was 10 feet high in parts of upstate NY. That may be my craziest video trip ever, lots of slipping and sliding.

Another more recent time I was trying to get to a store in Granby CT in the pouring rain at night before it closed (with my wife and 5 year old) and after missing a detour because no sign was present I took a chance on a road that connected ont he map but ended up being a really bad one lane dirt road going through Enders State Forest. We didn't really risk our lives and thankfully the road did empty to the main road, but it was intense.

PS: The 2 states I haven't been to yet are N Dakota and Hawaii.

Tim Mayer
11-22-2010, 11:10 PM
Heck, your stories beat anything on "Pickers".