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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In early February, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk told fellow Texas transplant Joe Rogan that Austin was the "biggest boomtown that America has seen in half a century."
Days later, thousands across the city had no access to running water or power as Winter Storm Uri devastated the region.