URBANDAL, IA – For many, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to embark on nagging domestic projects or declutter. For a man from Iowa, years of collecting home video has become a storage nightmare. With a little vision, tenacity, and a hint of nostalgia, he turned this nightmare into a childhood dream.
Brian Hogan’s basement transformation has to be seen to be believed. A faux brick facade and an “open” neon sign say it all.
“Welcome to the video store!” Hogan exclaimed.
His “video bunker” as he calls it is lined from wall to wall from so many films; he lost count.
“Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000, I imagine,” Hogan said.
Years of collecting has posed a conundrum: where could he keep his huge collection of films?
“The living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, the garage, my car, my hairdressing salon where I work all over the place,” he said.
His wife, Erin, supported the idea of creating a less intrusive home for DVD, Blu-ray, VHS and laserdisc movies, and acknowledged that the pandemic project would be a good creative outlet for her husband.
“Her films were piled up everywhere,” she said. “He had nowhere to go.”
So when his local video store closed, Hogan acquired the shelves he needed and started building.
After four months, it was supplemented with movie accessories, a snack bar, a working cash register, and even a built-in film return slot.
Everything is now organized by genre.
“It all sounds like science fiction or at least what I would consider science fiction,” Hogan explained.
But this trip 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 fell in love with the movie,” Hogan said.
This love for the movies meant not watching anything and everything, no matter how much he didn’t like it.
“I mean, it’s a terrible movie. The Longest Yard by Adam Sandler, the remake of the original by Burt Reynolds. This movie sucks,” Hogan criticized.
But that’s mostly about how Hogan feels upon entering this storage sanctuary.
“Like a child again,” he said. “I think everyone wants that feeling, don’t they?” Nostalgia, I guess, is the point.
In a world where streaming choices are close at hand, the extinction of the video store experience is one he wanted to preserve.
“You don’t interact with the media anymore, which is a big part of that experience,” Hogan said. “Go and touch something and then watch it and kind of like discerning that video coverage on that video coverage, and you can make that decision as opposed to an algorithm.”
The result was something Erin Hogan and the family could not have imagined.
“It still puzzles me that this exists in our basement and that we can just come in here whenever we want and choose a movie,” she said.
As for the sequel, Brian Hogan has big box office plans.
“I’m also going to build a movie theater, and that will take up the other half of the basement.”