We Luv Video Reboots Landmark I Luv Video as Nonprofit Video Rental Library
Entrepreneur Macy Cotton will launch the new concept with support from former owner Conrad Bejerano
By Britni Rachal
Photos by Brian Fitzsimmons
Mural by Jason Eatherly
Hundreds of thousands of videos currently sitting in a storage site in Central Austin are expected to get a reboot sometime in 2023. Videos from around the world — of all genres and some rare — are part of I Luv Video’s former collection. Once touted as the oldest and largest video store in the world, two years after closing, the videos will now be used as part of a nonprofit community group, a business concept from entrepreneur and attorney, Macy Cotton.
“My husband and I were talking about what we would do if we could do anything in the world. I Luv Video was a special place for us when we first moved to Austin and didn’t have a lot of money. It was a nice date night,” says Cotton who used to frequent the store almost weekly upon arriving to Austin in 2017. “We’d pick movies that I had never heard of, and we also got to learn a lot about film.”
Cotton connected with Conrad Bejarano, the former owner of both I Luv Video and Austin’s Spider House, who loved the passion behind the idea and had only one stipulation — he wanted to make sure the videos from his beloved collection are available to the public.
“This can bring a lot of joy,” says Bejarano, who describes being in the video industry in the early 1980s as unintentionally getting into the ‘culture business.’ “There’s always going to be some sort of turmoil in our world. It’s the little things that bring a smile to your face, and at the end of the day, that’s what counts. If it’s watching a movie, that’s what’s important. That’s what is special about old video stores.”
The revamped concept — now called “We Luv Video” — is already registered as a 501c3. Membership is expected to be based on a subscription model with different tiers of membership available depending on how many videos you’d like to rent per month. With accessibility in mind, the lowest membership would be $10 per month, and people who wanted to volunteer at the store would receive a free membership. To create a social atmosphere, rental space for movie screenings is also expected to be available, along with membership loyalty events and parties. Aspects both Cotton and Bejarano expect will still be popular.
Right now, finding a place to rent is the biggest challenge for Cotton and her team. We Luv Video’s business model is based on a Baltimore nonprofit video store, Beyond Video. A much smaller city with lower real estate costs, Cotton still believes the video store will succeed in Austin due to what she calls a “built-in video store lover infrastructure.”
“No one on our board or our team expects to get paid for this. We want to be 100% volunteer run, which does cut back on costs,” says Cotton. “There are things you can’t find on streaming. Maybe things you’ve never heard of or unique foreign films. Because of licensing reasons, things can also be pulled quickly, and for that reason, I think protecting physical media is more important than ever.”
“I Luv Video provided film and culture and community for the last four decades in Austin,” says Bejarano. “Now, with your help, We Luv Video will bring to life the mission, the art and the love of the movie community, along with the importance of physical media, while helping to educate future film creators for decades to come.”
To help raise funding for the cause, Cotton has already scheduled what she describes as an “old school comedy telethon” with a movie-theme for this fall, along with several movie screenings at Central Machine Works and Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches to raise awareness. To donate directly to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.