Katy- Over in Katy at an apartment complex like any other, you can visit a rented residence that happens to have a really large amount of rentals. All you have to do is contact the man who lives there and runs the place.
“I got about 6,000 VHS tapes,” said Jason Champion owner of Champion Video, a video store that literally at is house. “They’re all for rent, and people come by and rent them just like a normal video store back in the day except it’s out of house. “
Jason is the owner, caretaker, and resident of Champion Video. From awesome actions stars to the characters that carved out our Saturday mornings, each cassette has special place in Jason’s heart and his VCR.
“These are kind of handpicked,” Jason said. “It’s not just anything that was on VHS I’ll put in here. I try to be selective about it. So it’s a good selection for people. Everything’s set aside by genre. You got your cartoons over here. Comedy movies, these are some great great classic comedies in here, man. We have your weird terrible section. Yup. All things weird, terrible. Got some new releases over here too.”
Reliving the glory days of VHS connects Jason to his past. His master bedroom is modeled after a place he visited entirely too many times in the eighties.
“I remember going to our local video store,” Jason said. “We had a little video store called Aardvark Video. It was down the street, and so my brother and I would ride our bikes down and rent Rambo and ridiculous action and horror movies and stuff. Probably things we were too young to watch at the time. But those things just made such an impact on me that I’ve always been a big film fan. This is the format that I grew up watching movies on. This was the first time people could actually watch something at home. You didn’t have to wait for cable, or you didn’t have to go see it in the theater. Just the fact that you could watch a movie or a TV show on your own time was like a huge revolutionary thing.”
The few fleeting seconds it took to rewind a cassette is about how long it took for me to start geeking out about the memories that came flooding back like the rental store drop box at return time.
“It’s just cool evoking those emotions out of people and I wanted to kind of create like a time machine where people can come and relive those days,” Jason said. “So it’s a lot of fun, man, seeing people’s reaction like that. It’s just the nostalgia of it. You pop in the tape. You have the tracking that you have to adjust, kind of like the glitches that will come up on those parts that were rewound over and over again. You can tell something awesome is gonna happen because it will kind of fuzz out and come back in. There’ll be like a huge explosion, or some bikini girl, or something.”
Blockbuster movies aren’t exactly what you’ll find here. More of the off-beat, off-kilter kind of flicks that maybe aren’t available in any other form or fashion.
“Some of them have never been out on DVD or Blu-ray, so they’re kind of lost in time and lost on VHS format,” Jason said. “There is a lot of junk that is out there still too, like dancing granny yoga videos and things like that. I still will buy those, don’t get me wrong.”
As for a membership card, oh yeah, you’ll need that too.
“You guys can’t walk out with a membership,” Jason said. “It’s a legit membership card. That’s right. It’ll be laminated too so it’s waterproof and durable.”
One day Jason hopes to open an actual brick and mortar store. For now his apartment will have to do, making Champion Video one of the most unique stops on The Texas Bucket List.
“It’s the thrill of the hunt is really a fun thing about this hobby,” Jason said. “[It’s] going out and looking for that stuff and then you come home with some really amazing movies.”