“A long, long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away…”
Videos by Rare
…actually, it was only five years ago, just a stone’s throw from downtown Houston.
But an institution no less, for fans of obscure and classic films, their gateway to another world closed its doors on October 25, 2012, when Audio Video Plus, one of the first video rental stores in Houston, went out of business.
The store outlasted many of its larger and more famous contemporaries, including Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, while offering a wide array of films on VHS tapes.
While the national rental chains offered 500 rental copies of the biggest box office hits, AV+, as it was known to fans of the store, stocked some of the most offbeat and hard-to-find genre films.
Think what John Cusack’s record store in “High Fidelity” was to music lovers, AV+ was to film buffs.
The store opened in 1978, just as the home video market was getting started, and, by the time it closed, AV+ was stocked with more than 63,000 VHS tapes.
Its local commercial touted its selection of films on BetaMax and LaserDisc formats, and shoppers could get “high end video equipment,” including automatic tape rewinders so renters could “Be Kind and Rewind” with minimal effort.
Many former customers remember the store with fondness: the décor was largely made up of sun-bleached posters from films ranging from classics to cult favorites, to unheralded dreck that barely merited a theatrical release.
The shop was further a favorite of fans of obscure horror films, especially the schlock-laded “slasher” films of the early 1980s.
As with many types of retail business, the dawn of the internet was the death knell for the video rental industry.
Downloads, video sharing and streaming sites killed AV+ as surely as e-books killed the bookstore and online music streaming killed the record store.
RIP AV+ 1978-2012