KUT 90.5 | By Nathan Bernier / Published July 31, 2023 at 8:51 AM CDT
Three years after the credits rolled on one of Austin’s most iconic video rental stores, a new sequel is hitting screens. We Luv Video, a nonprofit tribute to the legendary I Luv Video, has officially opened its doors on North Loop Boulevard.
The volunteer-run nonprofit is drawing from I Luv Video’s trove of 130,000 DVDs and VHS tapes. The store’s shelves are filled with films, but I Luv Video founder Conrad Bejarano keeps adding to the collection from his stockpile in storage.
“Oh my gosh, there’s so much weird stuff,” said Macy Cotton, who started We Luv Video with her husband Ryan Teel. “A lot of them still even have I Luv Video staff notes, which we have kept, because they’re all fantastic.”
I Luv Video made its debut in Austin in 1984 with a single store at Slaughter Lane and Menchaca Road. The store quickly expanded to five locations across Austin.
Despite surviving the competitive onslaught of corporate movie chains like Dallas-based Blockbuster and enduring the rise of online video streaming, I Luv Video finally fell to the mandated business closures during the onset of the COVID pandemic.
“When the doors are shuttered, what other option is there?” said Bejarano, reflecting on the difficult decision to close in September 2020.
Stepping into We Luv Video, you are greeted by shelves lined with DVDs, movable on wheels to accommodate events. The venue is also available for private rentals. At the rear, a room packed with VHS tapes houses an intimate 25-seat theater with seats salvaged from a local cinema.
A fall event schedule is set to be released soon, featuring a mix of twice-weekly screenings handpicked by the We Luv Video staff, members and volunteers.
As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, We Luv Video heavily depends on building a member base. The founders were hoping to raise $20,000 this weekend, so they could start paying clerks and potentially install a new air conditioner.
Memberships start at $10/month, which allows members to take home one movie at a time and get discounts on screenings and branded merchandise. Students can benefit from a discounted rate of $5/month.
“Tell people to swing by and just hang out,” Cotton said. “That’s why we wanted to do this in the first place.”
The store is located at 100 E. North Loop Blvd. and operates during the following hours:
- Monday through Thursday: 6-10 p.m.
- Friday: 4-10 p.m.
- Saturday: noon-midnight
- Sunday: noon-10 p.m.