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Home » Collecting, Groovy Stuff, Horror, VHS, Weirdness » Houston, TX Tapehead Jason Champion Creates CHAMPION VIDEO: a Functional and Fantastic Video Rental Store in His Own Home!

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Contrary to common belief, the video store isn’t quite dead. And if you’re regularly tuned in to Lunchmeat Land, you’ll know this to be VHSolid fact. But if not, we welcome you to our VHS-obsessed domain with a few choice examples to support our notion: The classic chain of Family Video is still alive and finding ways to thrive out in the mid-west, Scarecrow Video has become a marvelous mecca of movies, indie start-up Old Skool Video is defying the odds in Nebraska and a hardy army of video stores like Viva Video in Ardmore, PA, Visart Video in Charlotte, NC, and many others are keeping the dream of overflowing aisles of movies and human-to-human cinema recommendation alive.

 

But Houston, TX-based rewind-era revivalist Jason Champion has decided to bring the video rental dream home. Similar to the spirit of Bradley Creanzo’s basement video rental destination as seen in Adjust Your Tracking, Jason’s CHAMPION VIDEO is a fully-functional video rental location with over 4,000 home video titles ready to invade your VCR, all flanked by an awesome array of video store essentials like movie posters, trading cards, radical snacks and a play-it-free arcade machine, all set up in the comfort of his own home. And he’s already inviting local Tapeheads to get in on the retro-rental experience, memberships and all. Read on, my fellow Videovores, and let’s root through the racks of rewindables at CHAMPION VIDEO…

 

 

 

 

 

Champ_Logo

Come hang with all these creeps and tons of radical rewindable slabs at CHAMPION VIDEO, dude. Your VCR will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

Tells us a little about yourself and your Videovore habits. How long have you been collecting? Any particular slabs you’re especially fond of?

 

I’ve been collecting for about 4-5 years now, but got pretty serious about it about 3 years ago. I’ve always been fascinated by VHS and the cover art since I was a kid, drooling over the awesome movies at the local video stores every time I went in. My favorites are any kind of horror flicks, and anything with ninjas, lasers, and robots in them. Some of my all-time favorites would be Street Trash, Frankenhooker, Dead Alive, Chopping Mall, Terror Vision, and anything by Godfrey Ho, HGL or Argento. Some of the hilariously bad ones I have are Beezbo, the story of an alien that comes to earth and a bunch of kids have to teach him about manners. Also, You on Kazoo, which is a pure train wreck of entertainment.

 

 

 

 

Champ_Counter

The insanely cool counter at CHAMPION VIDEO! Rent a Video, yo!!

 

 

 

 

What was the inspiration to create Champion Video? This is all set up in your house, right?

 

I would always ride my bike with my brother and sis to a couple local video stores called Aardvark Video and PopnGo in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I really miss the days of spending time looking for a new movie to watch at the video shop, flipping out over the ridiculously cool (or bad) cover art, etc. The whole experience just made my imagination run wild, you know?  We were lucky to have two stores so close by, and the clerks there didn’t care what we rented, so we were able to sneak home some pretty awesome stuff!

So, the whole idea behind Champion Video is to give people that same experience, the thrill of discovering a movie they didn’t know existed or forgot that they loved, and just to have fun with it man. Browsing through titles in person and renting videos was THE thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights, and it’s an experience people don’t think about often anymore. But I find as soon as I bring up the subject, you can see people’s minds going into nostalgia overload, and I really dig that.

So,yeah, it’s in my house for now… I have a pretty decent sized collection, and decided to display it all as a functioning replica of a video store, instead of just having them all on a shelf, kind of make it an immersive/interactive thing as a tribute to some of the best days growing up.

 

 

 

 

Champ_MemberCARDS

Official Membership cards for CHAMPION VIDEO. VHSign me up, man!

 

 

 

 

Can you fully explain what Champion Video is? Is it functional i.e. Do you rent stuff out to people? Is it just for friends or can strangers come in and rent flicks?

 

It is completely functional! Everything is organized by genre and in ABC order and cataloged. There are membership applications to fill out in order to get a membership card. With that membership card, friends and close acquaintances can rent out VHS tapes just like the old days. Rentals and memberships are all tracked in an old Commodore 64 computer with a spreadsheet program. I’m working on making a drop off box as we speak. As of now, it’s not open to the public, but that is a dream I have that will hopefully come true one day soon with the right amount of blood, sweat, and beers.

 

 

 

 

Champ_WALL

What a beautiful bounty of video rental bliss! And there’s more, man! BRING IT ON!!

 

 

 

 

So you’re planning to offer these rentals to more than your friends at some point, letting the general public come browse your VHSelection?

 

There’s a lot of stuff in the works! But for now, I just have it set up for friends that rent out tapes, and they are loving the vibe of it, dude. People are way more excited about it than I ever though they would be, and it’s been mind-blowingly great. So, yes, one day I would love to do this to where anyone can come rent tapes.

 

 

 

 

Champ_Wall2

Yes… Mmmhmmm… I like what you’ve done here… Home Dubs 5EVA, too.

 

 

 

 

How many titles are in Champion Video right now? Can you give us details on the selection? Any other cool items in the store? That Alien Pops display is too groovy, man.

 

For now, there’s a little over 4500… and still growing! I try to be selective and not just get filler stuff, or else it’d be way more. And, thanks dude, the Alien Pops container is one of my favorite pieces that one of my best friends gave me. In fact, a lot of stuff has been donated by friends and people that want to see it happen, and I am forever grateful for that. I’m excited that there’s been so much interest and support in making this whole thing happen!

There is a display case with candy, trading cards, VCRs, blank tapes, tape rewinders, and popcorn for people to “buy”.  Also, I have a horror themed arcade set on free play, since a lot of old video stores used to have them. Oh man there’s so much more stuff like video store promos, posters, horror and 80s collectibles all over the place, it’s like the 80s threw up everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

Champ_WIDEshot

A wide shot on CHAMPION VIDEO. That Alien Pops display. Too groovy, dude.

 

 

 

 

Why do you think it’s important to preserve this culture? What are people missing by Redboxing or streaming online?

 

There are lots of reasons to preserve this culture. I like to compare it to record collecting, man. Sure there are higher quality forms of media out there to watch movies on or listen to music to, but VHS and records were such a huge and nostalgic part of our lives growing up. It sucks seeing people just throw it away or forget about it like it never existed. On a positive note, though, the more I talk to people about the days of VHS and renting movies, I am reassured that it hasn’t been forgotten completely. When I talk to people about the glory days, it’s like you can see this light bulb go off and they come to the realization that, wow, this really was a huge part of growing up, and I miss it, too! It’s like something people have forgotten that they loved so much and just need a little nudge if that makes sense. So when people come check out Champion Video, I can see them being transported in a time machine back to the days of VHS rentals, and that’s very important and special to me to see them react that way.

I think Red Box and streaming are great for instant gratification, which is the kind of world most people live in these days. I know stuff changes and I do embrace it to an extent, but there’s really something important and personal missing from picking up something tangible and holding it in your hands. I think most collectors would agree that’s a big part of their reason for collecting. Same for retro video games, records, toys, etc. When people are fans of something, they want to feel like they own a small part of it, and I thinks that’s what drives that impulse. People that stick to streaming and Redboxing are really missing out on that, the feeling of discovery while digging through titles for rent. For a person who grew up after video rental stores though, it’s hard to explain it to them if streaming is all they’ve ever known.

 

 

 

 

Champ_Arcade

Another shot with that radical arcade machine in sight. Creature sez, “YOU DON’T NEED NO QUARTER, MAN!”

 

 

 

 

 

 We couldn’t agree more, man! Do you have any video stores that you still rent from in your area?

 

Sadly, there aren’t any video stores here in the Houston area. We had a cool dude in town that opened a place called Weird-Oh video, but that closed down. Audio Video Plus was king here in town for years, but sadly that went the way of the dinosaur, too. Luckily Austin, TX isn’t too far away, and they have I Luv Video and Vulcan Video there, which still rent out tapes. They have ridiculously cool and extensive selections for Tapeheads and movie fans, and they do a lot to preserve the format, which I admire.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAMP_tradingcards

And what video rental shop would be complete without trading cards and radical snacks? NEED ‘EM, NEED ‘EM, GOT ‘EM, NEED ‘EM!

 

 

 

 

 

Anything else you want to shout out to all the Rewind-inclined peeps eyeballin’ this Blog?

 

Oh, man, so much to say, but I’ll keep it simple: If you’re in Houston, come check out VHSlaughter Fest at Misfit Toys in the Heights. I screen a ton of movies on VHS for free, and we have built up a great community of like-minded people. It’s always a blast, and that’s the whole motivation with it, to just have fun and hang out and appreciate the VHS format. And last but not least, to anyone who collects tapes, keeps the spirit of them alive, and loves them to death – THANK YOU!!! It’s really cool to run across people who are VHS collectors, too, and every single one I’ve met in-person has been awesome.

Thanks to you Josh for this opportunity to talk about CHAMPION VIDEO, and for all you do for the VHS community. you’re an awesome dude. \m/

 

 

 

 

Hey, man, look who’s taking! This is a most ambitious and awesomely inspiring endeavor, Jason, and we here in Lunchmeat Land VHSalute you! Stay tuned to this VHS-obsessed slice of internet for even more new wave video store coverage, including a piece coming next week on a new project called IT CREPT FROM THE 80s spearheaded by none other than low-budget horror comedy auteur Chris Seaver! And if you just can’t wait (and we don’t blame you!) groove to their IndieGoGo page to see how YOU can help bring another video rental destination to fantastic fruition. It’s gonna rule, dude.

 

Groove and Groove and We are the Dream Warriors.

Josh Schafer

21 Comments

  1. DVR says:

    Champion Video looks really badass! Can’t wait to visit and rent some slashers. Great post lunch meat vhs well done.

  2. Harvey says:

    We all remember the good ole days of getting to hit up the local video store on the weekend and getting a stack of cheap rentals. My local store had $1 red dot movies and we’re $.50 on Sundays for a week rental. We would get a stack of movies, maybe rent one of few game systems and a game or 2, crystal pepsi, and some cheeto paws and watch movies all weekend. This is probably the best way to keep those kind of memories alive and well. Its people like Jason that really keeps vhs thriving. Thanks jason. And thank you for this article on my good friend.

  3. Juliano says:

    That’s a great initiative. VHS aren’t only movies. Are a record of an era of entertainment. You take the tape, look the cover, rewind… It’s a ritual like listen a LP. Lots of good luck to Jason for this great initiative to keep alive this (good) nostalgia.

  4. Atari Creep says:

    Great write up. This place looks amazing. Jason’s passion shows in this labor of love!

  5. Paul Skrabanek says:

    Phenomenal article and well written – love the pictures you have embedded

  6. Champion Video is great! Truly an endeavor of the heart by Jason and his hard work has not gone unappreciated or unnoticed. It’s fun, nostalgic, and entertaining. I also have the distinction of being the 1st video rental member. Thanks Jason and thanks Lunchmeat.

  7. Michael says:

    Awesome article I’m happy to see the VHS collection is alive and well.Especially when it comes to preserving the harder to find one.im more excited to see that this is in my hometown.keel up the great work Jason.

  8. Jason Champion has really outdone himself with Champion Video! I’m so excited for
    the store to open and start attending the VHS Slaughter events. If you are a horror fan AND and fan of VHS- this is the store, blog, event for you! Way to go

  9. Cody Dobbs says:

    It is so awesome to see people sharing what they are passionate about. It is beautiful to see someone this excited about their hobby obviously pouring so much work into attempting to share that love with others.

  10. Chris allen says:

    Great article! What Jason Champion has done is something special and nostalgic. Champion video has brought back that little piece of childhood thatvwe all looked forward to every Friday night.

  11. Colin Powell says:

    Awesome article about a rad dude that I’m lucky to call a friend, who turned his dream into reality!

  12. The passion keeps the nostalgia alive and the archive of our entertainment. A Champion will take you there. See you at the video store.

  13. Balltaser says:

    Great article, and I can’t wait to check it out! I’m glad to see all of Jason’s hard work is getting noticed. I might have to camp out there a few days and get my retro fix!

  14. Paul Cruz says:

    This guy is the real deal! He knows his VHS and is passionate about it. Jason’s built something really special here – I know I can’t wait to go exploring the tapes, and I bet there’s a lot of folks who’d agree with me!

  15. Jesse says:

    I can’t wait to check out this video store, we need more places like these. Champion video I respect you guys for keeping the VHS culture alive!

  16. Monica says:

    The attention to detail is amazing. This shop is so completely brilliant. I can’t wait to see it evolve and become a permanent addition to the Houston art scene. This is the real deal!

  17. Leah Espinosa says:

    Jason’s passion for the nostalgia of VHS is endearing and utterly contagious. I work at the toy shop where he hosts the VHSlaughterfest events and have had the pleasure of seeing his amazing collection. When he said he was creating a shop in his home I thought it was a cool idea and what he has done is really fantastic!

  18. Ross Boss says:

    Great pics and even better article . 10 out of 10 and i cant wait to visit the place myself ..

  19. Joe Grisaffi says:

    I worked at a video store in the late 80s/early 90s. Looks like Jason Champion nailed it. I can’t wait to visit Champion Video!

  20. Froyboy says:

    Love the guys passion, but too much time on his hands. But in any case this brings back old memories from renting VHS and Nintendo games from these stores. Many props to him for bringing back some nostalgia. ^_^

  21. Lizzie Lumen says:

    This is fucking mint, take my money.

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