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Austin loses another signature part of its culture with the closing of I Luv Video, the famously off-beat paradise for movie buffs, whose owner announced on social media late Tuesday that "circumstances have forced me to close permanently" after nearly four decades in business.
The shop is putting its entire archive—more than 130,000 DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS tapes—up for sale, with owner Conrad Bejarano expressing hope that someone will purchase the entire collection of "rare and unique videos for the connoisseur" and make it accessible to the public.
Bejarano urges anyone interested to call 737-990-9572.
The post struck an instant nerve among its Austin supporters, who were able to buy, trade and rent videos that can be impossible to find or stream online - which is, incidentally, the single biggest threat to video stores across the country in recent years.
The shop billed itself as the world's largest independent video store, providing endless rows of movies for browsing and discovery. Many mourned not just the collection but the brains behind it, as its staffers - like those of many independent specialty shops - were a walking encyclopedia of movie facts, a database unrivaled even by Google.
"I'm a professor, and going to I Love Video was like visiting a research library," one commenter wrote. "The staff is so sharp! I could ask, 'what are your favorite car chase films from 1974?' And they would lay out a dozen without consulting a database, just experience. I lived in New York City before Austin, and there was nothing like I Love Video there. I will miss you and your team of experts."
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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