Last month, Anthony Sant’Anselmo detailed what inspired him to turn his basement into an ’80s video “store.” If you missed Part 1, read it at https://townelaker.com/mondo-video-transforming-my-basement-into-an-80s-video-store/.
During summer 2018, I started sketching the floor plan of my dream ’80s video store. The idea was to utilize the wall space for shelving and have standing aisle racks in the center of the room for VHS tapes. I asked myself: What about those old video stores did I miss, and how could I merge my personality into the project, so that it would be more meaningful to me? I surveyed my collection of tapes and knew that I needed a lot more to flesh out the store. I took to the local Goodwills and thrift shops in Woodstock, and on Craigslist, eBay and in VHS social media groups, and I chose films that I loved, liked or hadn’t yet seen.
I ripped out carpet from four rooms and prepped it for flooring. I chose vinyl composite tiles, for practicality. (Choosing checkered flooring was the easy part; I wanted the video store to have a certain energy.) They were peel-and-stick tiles, and I also used flooring adhesive on the concrete. So, it really became part of the floor, which just made things trickier — and annoyingly stickier!
The flooring was the most tedious part of the project, along with the custom cutting of trim for the room’s perimeter. But, piece by piece, failure by failure, I got through it. Once the main room and small hallway were done, I swore I’d never lay tile again, as long as I lived.
I placed blue painter’s tape on the floors and walls, where I visualized the shelves, the counter, future posters, etc. That was key to seeing the project through. I’d rip off the tape as I acquired certain items. Thankfully, I scored wire movie racks and grid walls from Lee’s Discount in Douglasville, when they were closing down. Once I installed the wire shelving, it was much easier to see it as a “shop.”
Initially, I had a kids shelf on one of the racks, but felt I couldn’t really celebrate it, since they were just bookended tapes. That’s when the mud room was absorbed and dedicated 100% to kids movies, ’80s toys, posters and more. It was a chance for me to build a shrine to the movies I loved growing up and introduce these gems to my kids. (Remember when I said I’d never lay flooring again?) Of course, I couldn’t allow the main video store’s checkered flooring to just stop at the threshold of Mondo Kideo! So, the flooring nightmare began again, and I got better as I went. Still, I was done with flooring forevermore.
I knew I’d need custom shelving for the kids section, and it required a skilled carpenter to help me realize this vision. I turned to my friend, Woodstock resident Jeff McCall. This guy can build anything — and has. The shelving produced was naked wood and had to be painted. (Big shout-out to the paint department at the Holly Springs Home Depot, as I must’ve visited more than 50 times with paint orders. Morgan’s Ace Hardware also helped with any additional tools and such acquired along the way.)
I painfully pored over every detail of this project, and it became an obsession to reach my goal. (And, moving to a state where you don’t know anyone really frees up your evenings and weekends.) Faux brick paneling was installed down the stairwell and into the video store. My intention was to make it feel like you’re descending down back-alley stairs under the night sky above and into a hidden video store shop. So, it was important for me to distress the bricks on the stairs, to appear as if they had been weather-beaten for years. As you step into the shop, the bricks show less age, due to being sheltered.
Painting various bricks different colors, smearing plaster here and there, hand squeezing mortar in between every brick — one could go on forever, giving it little touches, and I kind of did. The whole “aging” process took a few months, from pristine brick paneling to the state it’s in now. My main goals were to focus on details, never cut corners and to finish.
Once 2020 hit, I started working remotely from home, so the video store build continued! As the project was inching into other rooms, the home gym couldn’t just be a gym, of course — it had to be an ’80s gym! In all the neon glory that the ’80s brought us, we celebrate the workout craze, wrestling, skateboard films, beach movies and more.
I mentioned that I was done with flooring forevermore? (Facepalm.) The basement kitchen had laminate flooring, which I ripped out, and, yeah, I laid more checkered tiles. The kitchen area is a fun one, as it houses food-related movies, with sections like Comfort Food and Culinary Horror. Lots of cheesy movies from yesteryear — pun intended. And, the diner-like checkered flooring doesn’t hurt for that area, either. Having a master carpenter as a friend can be dangerous, because I also asked him to build me a secret door to the kitchen, which houses VHS tapes.
As the shop was coming together, I needed genre signs for each section: Comedy, Drama, Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Special Interest, etc. John Hotaling at Signarama on Highway 92 helped tremendously. For the shop’s logo, I asked myself what kind of video store could even compete in today’s streaming world. So, I designed a sort of pizza delivery girl on a Pee-wee-Herman-inspired Vespa scooter, delivering VHS rentals in 30 minutes or less! My good friend Andy Bernet in Los Angeles brilliantly did the illustration off my sketch, and Signarama produced the large, color Mondo Video! logo behind the “employee” counter.
Over the course of the project, I certainly lost a lot of sleep, probably put my health in jeopardy by overextending myself and, many a time, could be found on the floor painting quarter-round trim. There isn’t one section of this basement project that I didn’t alter in some way. Fabienne calls it “One More Thing Video!” since I’m never really done with the place. Thankfully, she really enjoys it and thinks it’s something special to reminisce about our own childhood while sharing it with our children.
Once I revealed this project online, I didn’t anticipate the level of response I’ve received. It has been pretty surreal. I’ve read some incredibly humbling comments and, thankfully, the video store has helped people remember some of their own youthful experiences a bit more. I’ve received questions asking what the operating hours are, as many people think it’s open to the public. (It’s not, as it’s not a real store. But, every now and again, I will give a tour.)
It’s kind of weird, however, to head downstairs every morning, flip on lights and there’s a functional video “store” from the ’80s just staring at me. There is one unfinished room in our basement, and I have designs on finishing it out with drywall and the like, because, of course, an ’80s Home Video Store isn’t complete without an ’80s arcade.
P.S. To anyone who wishes to donate their old physical media — VHS, Beta, CEDs, Laserdiscs or VCRs — I’d love to give them a forever home. A friend of mine calls Mondo Video! a “no-kill shelter for VHS.” And, for any local actors, producers or camera crew, if you’d like to link up on some projects and make some fun stuff in the video store together, let me know! (You can connect with Anthony via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram (@mondo_video) and Facebook/Twitter/Youtube: @mondovideostore.)
– Woodstock resident Anthony Sant’Anselmo works as a “South Park” animator, and he is a writer and director.