Offbeat Video

By Harriet Whitehead


A movie buff is offering cinema fans the chance to ‘rewind’ time and experience films on VHS by opening a new VIDEO RENTAL shop.

Andy Johnson opened the doors to VideOdyssey in Liverpool this weekend and it’s already proved a huge hit with film lovers harking back to the days before online streaming services.

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Thought to be the only one in the country, the shop offers the full nostalgic experience with a secret cinema and retro arcade room crammed with 80s’ games including Pac-Man.

Former journalist Andy, 38, was already set to go having saved thousands of VHS tapes from the days when he worked in a video shop more than 20 years ago.

Andy from Liverpool, Merseyside, said: “People told me I was out of my mind and I wouldn’t be able to make it work but I’m hoping to build a community by giving people an experience.

“It’s about re-living that era.

“There’s that nostalgia feeling but I’m also on a mission to save films from being lost in this digital age.

“They’re in danger of being lost by people throwing them away. Video tape can’t be recycled. – they’re being consigned to oblivion.

“The way we’ve set it up with the videos on the walls is like a gallery.

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“People enjoy seeing those video covers and there’s that physical aspect to it, people have been missing that physical thing.

“These are like first editions of those films, it’s amazing how they’ve stood the test of time.

“A lot of the films we’ve got are not available on DVD or online. Some might never have even come out.

“Quite often the streaming service will not have films that you want to watch or you’ll watch half of it then go back to it and it’s no longer available.”

Andy said he wants to offer a curated cinema experience especially for those who find going to the cinema too expensive these days.

Andy said: “We’ve got a secret cinema room hidden behind a sliding wall of tapes and an arcade room with 12 machines.

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“We’ve got a big screen where we’re going to play all the old VHS tapes. People have been loving it, it’s a much more affordable experience.

“I like this idea of having a members’ area where people can meet, have a cup of coffee and discuss their love of film or play retro games.

“You go into this sacred area and see these vintage arcade machines, it’s like stepping back in time.

“We’re hoping to hold Q and A sessions with directors and we’ve been talking about VHS collection conventions.”

The dad of three said although he has worries it may not be sustainable the amount of interest has been really positive.

Andy said: “We invited a few ‘video’ people over last week and they were all really into it.

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“I’ve been getting inundated by hard core collectors wanting to buy tapes. There’s a real buzz about it.

“People have been messaging me from all over the country and even further afield. It’s been three days since we opened and it’s gone crazy, I’m getting so many messages.

“I got a message from a guy in New Jersey who said he wanted to come and visit.

“Ramsey Campbell, who’s a horror author from Liverpool, got in touch and offered to donate his horror film collection.

“I’ve already been offered 3,000 tapes in the last few days, I’m really excited by it all.”

Andy said he decided to fulfil his lifelong ambition after it looked like his collection of 4,000 tapes was about to be binned.

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Andy said: “I’ve had the idea for quite a while, it’s been in the back of my mind.

“I used to work in a video shop in Birkenhead 20 years ago during the university holidays and kept all of the tapes.

“They were going to throw them all away so I said I’d have them. I had about 4,000 as well as the display units in my dad’s garage.

“He decided he was downsizing so it was kind of an ultimatum. Was I going to junk them or actually do something with them? I thought I’d go for it.”

As well as renting out VHS tapes for £1.50 for a week Andy said people can also borrow VHS players.

Andy said: “We’re going to utilise new technology as well to overcome the old obstacles.

“People will be able to renew tapes via social media.

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“I remember when I worked in the shop people would run up large fees and feel too embarrassed to take the tape back – we can get over that.”

Film buff Andy, who loves heist movies, is looking forward to showing some of his old favourites on the big screen.

Andy said: “I’m a big Tarantino fan. He used to work in a video shop and is a hero of mine. I also love 80s’ comedy like Ghostbusters and Richard Pryor films.

“They were bringing films out on VHS until 2006 so we do have some Harry Potter films.

“Obviously you can’t get newer films but people want that nostalgic experience.

“You can get a lot of new films online but can’t get the older ones.

“I had my own collection of 4,000 tapes and now we’ve got about 7,000 . I have no idea how many we’re going to end up with.”