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UK’s only video shop owner from Toxteth travels 600 miles to save 20,000 tapes from the tip

3 years ago

UK’s only video shop owner from Toxteth travels 600 miles to save 20,000 tapes from the tip

A Liverpool man who runs the UK’s only video shop was travelling 600 miles to Scotland today to save 20,000 VHS tapes from being sent to the tip.

Andy Johnson, 42, from Toxteth, was collecting the massive haul from a private owner in Dundee.

And he says: “I can’t wait to see what’s in there, I’m really excited.

“I am really hoping for some good stuff, some horror films maybe, or some old TV programmes that no longer exist.”

He adds: “I recently found a tape of Rowan Atkinson performing live and I’m pretty sure you can’t get that on digital format. Things like this would be lost if we didn’t save them.”

Andy opened VideOdyssey at Toxteth TV studios in Windsor Street three years ago.

It was a dream he’d had since a chance meeting with film legend Quentin Tarantino years ago: “He was in Liverpool for the premier of Death Proof and there was an after-show party he came to and he chatted to everyone there,” says Andy, who’s also a writer and producer.

“One of my favourite jobs had always been as a clerk in a video store and he spoken to me about how he’d learned his craft watching films in a video shop he was working in. He said if he hadn’t had that job he wouldn’t have been the film-maker he was. That stuck with me. Opening a video shop was a dream that was always in the back of my mind from there and something I had my eye on.”

But it was only when his dad downsized from his home that the dream became a reality: “I’d got loads of VHS film tapes and wall displays I’d saved from my old shop still there, and my dad going to have to put everything in the tip. I couldn’t let that happen and it was one of those moments when I thought if I didn’t do it now, I’d never do it. If it wasn’t for dad downsizing it might never have happened.

“We had the space at the studio and it’s taken on a life of its own,” he says. “I’ve got young people in their 20s coming in to have that nostalgic connection, it’s like what happened with vinyls.

“VHS videos have that nostalgic feel and that’s what people like; they like playing an anologue copy, and the physical connection of holding the box, seeing the artwork on the cover. And when you’re watching a film you’re in a bubble, with no alerts from your phone or your laptop.

“I think, too, once something is in danger of becoming obsolete there’s a hardened community that wants to keep it going.”

With VideOdyssey doing so well, Andy couldn’t turn down the chance to grab the 20,000 strong haul of VHS tapes hoovered up from car boot sales over decades by George McInnes in Dundee, ready to reunite them with new viewers.

They’ll be added to the collection already owned by the shop, which boasts its very own time warp to the 80s and 90s and already features 15,000 tapes.

Andy says: “We’re on a mission to save film. I hoped there would be a good reaction to opening a video shop, but the response has been phenomenal. I’m absolutely blown away by the love and support we have received, especially during the various lockdowns, where we offered a Nostalgia SOS pack with a player and 10 tapes.”

Andy now finds himself travelling across the country on his days off to gather people’s collections of old gems and save films, which never came out on a digital format, from oblivion.

“It’s taken over my life in a short space of time. Thankfully, I have a very understanding wife and, as we have a three-year-old boy, they’ve both travelled with me. But there’s been nothing so far like the size of this collection in Dundee.

“I can see VideOdyssey becoming a national archive for tapes. It’s important to protect them for future generations of film fans.”

Find out more about VideOdyssey here.


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