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Film fan converts basement into video rental store throwback

Video Bunker
Posted at 12:31 PM, Oct 27, 2021

URBANDALE, IA — For many, the pandemic has afforded the opportunity to take on nagging home projects or decluttering. For one Iowa man, years of home video collecting became a storage nightmare. With a little vision, tenacity, and a dash of nostalgia, he turned that nightmare into a childhood dream.

Brian Hogan’s basement transformation must be seen to be believed. A faux brick façade and neon “open” sign says it all.

“Welcome to the video store!” exclaimed Hogan.

His "video bunker" as he calls it is lined from wall to wall with so many movies; he’s lost count.

“Somewhere in between 4,000 and 5,000 I would imagine,” said Hogan.

Years of collecting posed a conundrum: where could he keep his massive movie collection?

“The living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, the garage, my car, my barbershop where I work pretty much everywhere,” he said.

His wife, Erin, supported the idea of creating a less intrusive home for the DVD, Blu-ray, VHS cassette, and laserdisc films and recognized that the pandemic project would be a good creative outlet for her husband.

“His movies were piled up all over the place,” she said. “It had no place to go.”

So, when his local video store went out of business, Hogan acquired the shelving he needed and started building.

After four months, it was completed with movie props, a snack bar, a working cash register, and even a built-in movie return slot.

Everything is now organized by genre.

“All of this is like sci-fi or at least what I would consider sci-fi,” explained Hogan.

But this journey has an origin story built in a father-son custom.

“I grew up with my dad taking me to the video store and stuff, so I just kind of fell in love with film,” said Hogan.

That love for film meant not watching anything and everything, no matter how much he disliked it.

“I mean, this is a terrible movie. Adam Sandler's The Longest Yard, the remake of the Burt Reynolds original. This movie sucks,” critiqued Hogan.

But it’s mostly about what walking into this storage sanctuary feels like for Hogan.

“Like a kid again,” he said. “I think that everybody wants that feeling right? Nostalgia, I guess, is the point.”

In a world of streaming choices at your fingertips, the extinction of the video store experience is one he wanted to preserve.

“You're not interacting with the media anymore, which is a big part of that experience,” said Hogan. “Going and touching something and then looking at it and kind of like discerning from this video cover over this video cover, and you get to make that decision as opposed to an algorithm.”

The result has been something Erin Hogan and the family couldn’t have imagined.

“It still sorts of boggles my mind that this exists in our basement and that we can just come down here whenever we want to and pick out a movie,” she said.

As for what’s next, Brian Hogan has some big box office plans.

“I'm going to build a movie theater, too, and that'll take up the other half of the basement.”