That’s a wrap on I Luv Video

Classic Austin video store closes its doors after decades of serving the film community

The+I+Luv+Video+storefront+faces+a+nearly+empty+parking+lot+after+closing+down+for+business.+The+art-covered+walls+and+colorful+exterior+reflect+the+friendly%2C+creative+atmosphere+inside.+While+the+store+was+open%2C+staff+were+always+ready+to+help+customers+find+the+films+they+wanted+inside+the+%22oldest+and+largest+video+store+in+the+world.%22+Store+owner+Conrad+Bejarano+announced+the+abrupt+closure+on+Sept.+1.+

sofia

The I Luv Video storefront faces a nearly empty parking lot after closing down for business. The art-covered walls and colorful exterior reflect the friendly, creative atmosphere inside. While the store was open, staff were always ready to help customers find the films they wanted inside the “oldest and largest video store in the world.” Store owner Conrad Bejarano announced the abrupt closure on Sept. 1.

Sofia Ramon, staff reporter

I Luv Video, the self-proclaimed “oldest and biggest video store in the world,” is shutting its doors for good after nearly four decades in the Austin film community. I Luv Video owner Conrad Bejarano announced the news on Sept. 1, citing COVID-19 and the Austin real estate market as deciding factors in a Sept 24 Statesman article.

“It has been my great honor to have participated in the Austin film culture for almost 40 years,” Bejarano said. “I could never have done it without my wonderful staff, supportive family and loyal customers.”

McCallum film analysis teacher Eric Wydeven discovered the store when he first came to Austin 20 years ago.

A young Reia Williams watches a movie with her dad. Williams and her family went to I Luv Video for years. Every Friday night would being with pizza and picking out movies from I Luv Video for a family movie night. “I would get a Studio Ghibli movie every time, and my brother would get a Marvel movie,” Williams said. She also remembers the antique figurines that lined the store shelves. Photo by Mariah Ramon.

“My wife and I are both real movie lovers,” Wydeven said. “We love stories. We love narrative. We love movies.” The films that were available at I Luv Video often weren’t available anywhere else. “In terms of the film community, it really expanded people’s horizons on film,” Wydeven said. “There was stuff in there you’d never even thought of before, but you’d grab a copy and watch it and oftentimes it was incredible. It was just a treasure trove of films.”

Along with supporting the local film community, I Luv Video was also an active part of its surrounding neighborhood community.

“Even though they were struggling and trying to make money, they supported me as the film teacher at McCallum and would dole out free films,” Wydeven said. “It was that kind of atmosphere.”

One of the most memorable parts of I Luv Video was the environment inside the store. Wydeven described it as a friendly, mom-and-pop atmosphere centered around a shared love for film and conversations surrounding film. He remembered Free Beer Tuesdays as a perfect example of this atmosphere.

It was like a forum where these movie lovers came”

— McCallum film analysis teach Eric Wydeven

“It was like a forum where these movie lovers came and you’d be walking the aisles and hearing people talk about this actor, or this actress, or this director or this thing they witnessed,” Wydeven said. “What a [wealth] of filmic information, conversation and sharing.”

With so many memories to choose from, Wydeven couldn’t decide on just one favorite I Luv Video experience. “Just the idea of the hours my wife and I have spent there just kind of aimlessly perusing the shelves and finding things that we’d never heard of before that turned out to be really cool,” Wydeven said. “And some, kind of weird.”

Junior Reia Williams used to drive over with her family every Friday to pick a movie for pizza movie night. She remembers getting everything from Studio Ghibli to Marvel to random, obscure movies she happened to pick off the shelves. She also fondly remembers the shelves of figurines and art that lined the store.

“They were all super old and collectible, so they were always really cool to look at,” Williams said. “You could really see the history.”

Although I Luv Video is closing, Bejarano hopes to pass his immense film catalog on to someone who could continue the store’s legacy.

“It would bring me the utmost joy to pass the torch to a group or individual that has the financial capacity to preserve our immense catalog of films,” Bejarano said. “My only stipulation is that whomever does so gives the community access to our vast film library.”

Artwork on the front window of I Luv Video describes the variety of films inside. McCallum film teacher Eric Wydeven remembers the huge selection of films spreading across genres. “They just had everything —stuff you can’t even imagine,” Wydeven said. “It was just a treasure trove of films.” (Sofia Ramon)