Video Cultures: Formulating Research into Video Shop Culture


Video Cultures: Formulating Research into Video Shop CultureOne cannot underestimate the significance that the video rental shop had for those who grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s. After numerous discussions between the authors about the role of the video shop in our own lives and the decline of the independent video rental industry, we decided to undertake a research project called Video Cultures. Started in July 2010, the main purpose of the project is to collect the memories of those who value the video shop as a key part of their lives and collate materials from the era such as video cover art and promotional ephemera. Whilst it is too early to draw any significant conclusions from the material gathered to date, this article outlines the early stages of the Video Cultures project and includes some of the multimedia content that we have received thus far. It concludes with a short case study that focuses on an interview we conducted with a VHS collector.

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A Collection of VCRs

Here is a video I found recommened on recently.  So far, we have made many mentions about collections about video tapes but what about collections of VCR’s?  This chap appears to have quite the collection.

Even more video shop memories

Many thanks to Dave from Cardiff for this response.  Please keep the contributions coming.

Do you have any memories of video shops? 

Morriston near Swansea was where I grew up , and my main memory is of finding a shop which would let me buy many of their older titles on the basis that people didn’t rent them out anymore. I would have been about 15, around 1987. I remember Death Race 2000, Insemenoid, but they wouldn’t let me buy Texas Chainsaw Massacre because I was under 18 (never mind that they shouldn’t have had the film out on display in those days … ! )

Another one with a friendlier owner let me have a promo poster for Evil Dead 2 , which I should never have got rid of , it’s probably worth something today.

It never occurred to me at the time, but the people in the shops obviously had a record of what people rented, since I was a big horror / cult fan especially back then, it was cool when I went in, to be told in advance that, for instance ‘Maniac Cop is due out after Xmas’ , pretty good personal service really, and that was in a chain also, not an independent shop.

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More video shop memories

Thanks to Jay H for his answers below to our recent batch of questions looking for your video shop memories. Jay tells us that his interest in VHS tapes has been renewed in recent months because of the work of VivaVHS and Video Cultures! Thanks for the compliment!

What was your local video shop called?

Video Mania. Best deal: rent 4 tapes for 4 days for $4 USD! Did that one often.

Do you remember the owner?

Yes, the same woman always worked the checkout desk, which was rather uncomfortable whenever I rented “questionable” videos. Although, I’m sure she didn’t think badly of me based on most of the people that would frequent this place.

Did you collect or buy ex-rental tapes from video shops that closed down?

Yep, I’ve bought several tapes from that place (wish I had bought more!) and from other places when available. Even bought a bunch of tapes from Hollywood Video when they began clearing out their VHS.

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Video Cover Art: films under ‘Z’

This is the final post in our video cover art series!

If you own the copyright to any of the images included in these galleries and don’t feel that they should be displayed for the purposes of cultural research and education, please feel free to contact us privately at

Video answers

Thanks to Karen for answering our recent batch of questions!

What was your local video shop called? 

‘Video Den’ in my hometown (Va), ‘Photoplay’ and ‘Kim’s’ were the ones I used as an adult, and then there was one I forget the name of, maybe ‘JAF videos’. All three of those were in NYC. Oh, and ‘Heads Together’ in Pittsburgh.

Do you remember the owner?

The last two I knew the owners by sight and to say hello to.

Did you collect or buy ex-rental tapes from video shops that closed down?

Yes, lots. Mostly from stores I didn’t frequent as a renter. Heads Together was the only one that closed while I was using it, and then I bought a bunch of their tapes.

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We need your video shop memories!

We thought we’d put out a call for your video shop memories. If you have answers to any of the following questions, email your responses to

Questions for fans of video culture

What was your local video shop called?

Do you remember the owner?

Did you collect or buy ex-rental tapes from video shops that closed down?

Did your video shop keep a few rare items under the counter?

Did you manage to get 18 certificate films when you were still a youngster?

Did you design your own art work or VHS covers?

Have you imported video tapes from Europe and further afield?

Do you have and still use a VHS player?

Are you thinking of dusting off the VCR, Betamax or Video 2000 player? What old formats do you still enjoy?

Have you been a video shop owner, or are you still?

Let us know!