I Luv Video, a movie rental store on Guadalupe Street, closed Monday as the area continues to see widespread business relocations and closings.
I Luv Video had two store locations in Austin, one on Guadalupe Street and the other on Airport Boulevard. Eric Mendell, manager of the store on Airport Boulevard, said the 30,000–40,000 film titles at the Guadalupe store will expand the Airport location’s inventory to over 100,000 film titles.
Mendell said rental prices for retail space on Guadalupe have been increasing, and it is not viable for businesses to thrive in the area. Vulcan Videos previously had a store across the street from I Luv Video on Guadalupe Street near 29th Street, but there existed a healthy relationship between the two stores, Mendell said.
“We viewed them as comrades in the battle against the Big Red, including the boxes and Netflix, those corporate Commies,” Mendell said.
Radio-television-film professor Joseph Straubhaar said the video rental market started declining 10 years ago because people became more interested in streaming and the increasingly easy access to online video.
“The future of all of this is whatever you want, streaming when you want with whatever medium you want, and everything else is just a stop gap,” Straubhaar said. “It’s very much a driven demand at this point.”
Mendell said the group has been in Austin for over 30 years after it first started as London Movies at Dobie Mall.
Mendell said I Luv Video had a wide selection of independent films and many local or small film producers brought their work to the store where it would have a chance to be seen.
“One of the UT RTF professors, Geoff Marslett, has produced a couple of them that we carried here, 2012’s ‘Mars’ and more recently ‘Loves Her Gun,’ that I don’t think would otherwise get much of an audience outside of festivals,” Mendell said. “People are able to discover low-budget indie films that don’t get widespread distribution.”
Radio-television-film senior Scott Riegel said he visited the Guadalupe store for research, and it was a fun place to visit because of their large selection and wall of directors. Riegel said the Austin real estate market is an issue needing to be addressed.
“I don’t know what this means for other places because this seems more like an issue with Austin real estate than anything,” Riegel said. “Rental places can survive by offering a more personal experience than streaming services. They have a better selection, and an actual person can suggest something for you rather than an algorithm.”