The primary I Luv Video location opened in 1985 after founder Conrad Bejarano discovered in regards to the video retailer idea from his brother. At its most worthwhile, I Luv Video had 5 areas in Austin — however the franchise’s crown jewel stood on Airport Boulevard.
“The Airport (location) … was actually distinctive as a result of it attracted the extra avant-garde, bizarre cult motion pictures. … It actually attracted a variety of range in Austin tradition and neighborhood,” mentioned Bejarano, who additionally based the Ballroom at Spider Home. “That was an actual telltale signal of how video shops have been greater than only a film hub — it was a cultural kind of neighborhood.”
The Austin neighborhood performed a major half in persevering with I Luv Video’s legacy, from supporting and collaborating within the unique retailer’s tradition to maintaining its spirit alive by way of the upcoming We Luv Video retailer.
“When (my husband and I) moved right here, I Luv Video made Austin cool and distinctive,” mentioned Macy Cotton, board chair of We Luv Video.“We lived shut by, and we went in all probability two or thrice per week … We received a great impression of what Austin is like. It actually helped us fall in love with Austin, and we discovered loads about motion pictures too.”
I Luv Video’s Airport Blvd. location and neighborhood would outlive the franchise’s 4 different shops, which closed through the years. Nevertheless, with COVID-19-related monetary strains compounding the already diminished demand for video shops as a consequence of streaming providers, the ultimate retailer closed in 2020.
“It wasn’t too shocking since a variety of enjoyable stuff was closing round that point,” mentioned Ryan Teel, Cotton’s husband and We Luv Video board member. “However that one hit us perhaps hardest as a result of that was our weekend, you understand?”
After the unique retailer’s closure in 2020 left a niche within the Austin movie neighborhood, Cotton and Teel thought to spearhead the crowdfunding and normal operations of We Luv Video.
Upon contacting Bejarano with the concept, Cotton and Teel launched a Kickstarter marketing campaign to boost cash for the mission. They obtained entry to the library of greater than 130,000 movies he nonetheless owned from the previous retailer, leading to 828 donations that collectively contributed $112,494 towards the brand new retailer.
In response to an announcement on the We Luv Video Instagram and Twitter accounts, the shop postponed a slated July 1 grand opening to later this month. Volunteers proceed constructing needed parts, placing decorations collectively and organizing the huge library to organize for the re-opening.
“(I Luv Video) was a pillar within the Austin neighborhood,” mentioned Ron Lechler, a We Luv Video volunteer. “There was this big void when it closed, so I’m glad to see it full of people who find themselves simply as passionate.”
Cotton cited the volunteers’ onerous work and enthusiasm because the driving forces behind the re-opening. She mentioned the communal assist given to We Luv Video is a testomony to the shop’s legacy.
“(The volunteers are) so captivated with what they’ll do,” Cotton mentioned. “That’s the ‘can-do’ spirit all these volunteers have … and it’s the neighborhood effort that’s really serving to us get this off the bottom.”