In a decade, video stores have gone from ubiquitous to nearly extinct. When I moved to my current apartment in 2008, there were four different stores in walking distance. Nine years later, they’re all gone, replaced by a new world of streaming video and online media. We can debate the pros and cons of this development from now until the end of time. But there’s no arguing that the era of the video store has essentially ended.

The stores may be gone, but their customers remember them — and miss them. Streaming sites offers thousands of films and television shows instantly, anywhere, and nothing is ever out of stock. But Netflix and its ilk can never replicate the pleasures of heading over to your favorite store on a Friday night to see what new titles they got, and to wander the aisles on a random quest for entertainment. This almost ritualistic aspect of video stores was a core part of their appeal. And there’s basically no equivalent for it in the internet age.

I think that’s why men like Jason Champion do what they do. There are no VHS stores left in the Houston, Texas area so Champion, a VHS collector and lover, decided to make a video store in his basement. Now his home also houses Champion Video, a working (though not, as of yet, open to the general public) video store stocked with 4500 titles. It’s like the baseball field from Field of Dreams, except cool and functional and the only ghosts are the ones in the tapes in the horror section. The pictures and videos of the place are incredible:


Champion explained his reasons for creating this impressive throwback to Lunchmeat VHS:

The whole idea behind Champion Video is to give people that same experience, the thrill of discovering a movie they didn’t know existed or forgot that they loved, and just to have fun with it man. Browsing through titles in person and renting videos was THE thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights, and it’s an experience people don’t think about often anymore. But I find as soon as I bring up the subject, you can see people’s minds going into nostalgia overload, and I really dig that.

As Champion notes, streaming is “great for instant gratification ... but there’s really something important and personal missing from picking up something tangible and holding it in your hands.”

Absolutely correct. I love the access and options Amazon Prime and Hulu afford me, but I miss going to places like my little New Jersey town’s Video Home Center, whose five movies for five days for five bucks deal practically invented the concept of binge-watching 15 years before Netflix even existed. If I lived in Houston, I’d be begging for a Champion Video membership card.

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