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Austin’s Favorite Video Store Returns with Nostalgia and a Vast Collection of Films

Devoted fans of Austin's beloved I Luv Video have revamped the video rental concept as a nonprofit library and cultural center

I Luv Video (photo by Brian Fitzsimmons)

Isaiah Gonzalez and Faith Sanchez walked out of We Luv Video on with a small stack of movies. The disc haul included Stuart Gordon’s 1989 action sci-fi Robot Jox, and Apichatpong’s 2004 feature Tropical Malady. Gonzalez said the former title was described on Letterboxd, an online film review sharing site, as “Top Gun for straight people,” and told us about Tropical Malady’s “Thai director of amazing films, uninfluenced by Hollywood and Western work.”  Sanchez chose Gantz, an action drama anime they told us was based on the manga and similar to Total Recall

“It’s good to be renting movies again,” said Gonzalez, who said he signed up for a monthly subscription at We Luv Video, the new nonprofit revival of the formerly shuttered I Luv Video store

browsing collections of DVDs and VHS tapes at We Luv Video

The new shop, which opened its doors to the public in late July, is a volunteer-run organization. Located at 100 North Loop Boulevard, the store rents films on a subscription-based model in hopes of offering low-cost access to its collection.

RELATED: We Luv Video Reboots Landmark I Luv Video as Nonprofit Video Rental Library

The nonprofit hoped to raise $20,000 on their first day, and by the early evening, Board Chair Macy Cotton said they were near the halfway point in funding with merch, drinks, and memberships each making up a small portion of the total. By midday on Monday, Cotton updated us on the final tally via email. 

“We were about $5,000 short of our (very ambitious!) goal, but we made enough in memberships and merch sales to cover a month of rent, and enough in sustaining memberships to almost entirely support our monthly expenses in the future, so we’re counting it as a win!” 

Cotton told us that the small back room, already set up with two rows of black movie house style chairs facing a large projection screen, might one day host film classes. The VHS tapes on display were curated for “specialness, rarity, and quality,” she said. 

Quirky space for film fans at the new We Luv Video

Among the “tape heads,” or lovers of VHS, Ron Lechler stood behind a table of VHS tapes he reproduced and then designed covers and labels for, selling them for around $15 each. Among the titles were a compilation of his favorite Looney Tunes cartoons, 2020’s Prey in Comanche with English subtitles, and a copy of Halloween with a tri-fold insert cut to the shape of a jack-o’-lantern.

At the front desk, three volunteers worked to check people out, donating time outside their separate full-time jobs to contribute. Zoe Gonzalez said she’s been a volunteer since late March and felt heartbroken when I Luv Video closed and felt the need to help when she heard the nonprofit was behind the collection. 

We Luv Video (photo by Brian Fitzsimmons)

Next to Gonzalez, Aud Kohler, who talked about the volunteer-made genre cards, many she designed herself, hung on the shelves around the store. She said her favorite genre was “comedy with a horrible score on Rotten Tomatoes.”

Mike York never visited I Luv Video, and said he was too young to appreciate this video store in its heyday, but he is excited to be involved now. 

You can sign up for a monthly membership to rent videos either online or in person with memberships starting at $10 a month or $5 per month for students.