Audio Video Plus on Waugh is Clearing It Out

There’s a new red sign stretched above the fading film posters in the storefront windows of Audio Video Plus at 1225 Waugh. It reads “Closeout Sale.” The Mecca for movie buffs has been closed for the last few days. Today, the heavy shutters securing the store’s entryway were drawn tight and the parking lot was even more empty than it usually is during business hours. The coming event, referred to as a “Customer Preview” sale in a note taped to the storefront, is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, from 11 to 7. Is this the end of the line for the longtime specialty renter-retailer, or just a little flushing of the VHS archives?


The North Montrose store’s thousands and thousands of titles — most of them still on VHS — represent a mind-boggling spectrum of niches. For decades, it’s drawn the cinema-savvy as well as those just trying to track down a favorite old flick or TV series. On view from the sleepy decades-old spot at the corner of Clay St.: changes in technology and viewing habits that have bypassed many corners of its extensive catalog, and parcel-by-parcel knockdowns and redos of nearby properties.

Photos: CALwords

37 Comment

  • I’ve always thought this place was a front.

  • Great store, hideous location. I wondered how long they could hold on.

  • J: I was thinking just the opposite. It’s a great location — heart of Montrose, close to heights/midtown. But a product that no one wants anymore.

    So great location, hideous store (stock).

  • Always amazed they lasted this long, but it will be missed. It was one of those water marks for us–when Audio/Video goes, we know we’ve reached another point on the timeline.

  • I hope it can survive in some form.

  • It was by far the best place to go in the 80s, before there was a Blockbuster, when the only other competition was Mom&Pops with bigger selections of porn than mainstream videos, and typically kept only 1 or 2 copies of new releases at their stores. If a movie existed in video at all it could be found at AV Plus, or nowhere else.

  • Cody: You’ld actually be surprised at how many collectors there are, and the retro factor to vhs that seems to be appealing to people. I personally am glad not everyone wants mainstream stuff found on every website out there.

  • Every time I drive by this place I wonder how it has stayed in business so long.

    Whelp, this answers that. [tips hat to Audio Video Plus for an impressively long run]

  • Shawna: You’d actually be surprised at how many people don’t care about what hipsters like.

  • Heh I too thought it was a bodega, or something. I live just down the street and have NEVER seen a car in the parking lot.

  • Shawna: You’re right. I would be surprised as whatever they sold could be found in a better medium and higher quality. But sadly there are not enough to keep a business like this around.
    Which goes back to my point. It wasn’t location that did them in (unless you argue that the location was ‘too good’ which made the rent too expensive to support the business)… What did them in is a changing market that doesn’t really want that product (save a small fan base that you mention).

  • I always thought it was an adult movie place because the building was so shabby. After Cactus closed, I should have been going there to get movies. I loved that I could find stuff like Brewster McCloud at Cactus and was bummed when they closed and moved. But, in the age of red box and netflix the storefront video store is pretty much over.

  • This place was one of the first to rent out movies, back in the early 80’s when the VCR and ye ol Betamax were just starting to be in homes and way before Blockbuster and Hollywood Video or the internet. In the heyday you had to wait to get in the parking lot. They offered mainstream movies and a few adult selections. How times have changed, the exterior used to be festooned with movie posters and the large structure in the middle was where they advertised the newest blockbuster to hit vide. Montrose sure is changing, sigh~

  • If you needed to BUY something obscure, right now, like for a present, it was really, really good. I bought a lot of gifts there. 60’s musical variety compilations and stuff like that. And even after Blockbuster took over they still had far, far more obscure stuff, and like the original Cactus Records, made a real effort to try to stock everything that was available.

  • I meant that Blockbuster took over the market, not the actual store. I’m sorry for being misleading.

  • There are still some great movies that are only available on VHS. Lili for one.

  • I asked someone who worked there once, how do you stay in business. They said that, they do most there business during Christmas season.

  • Chased down a very rare Jan Å vankmajer that I first saw at Rice Media Center in the early 90s. It took like 6 months to get it.

    The chase was part of the fun. Fun killed by the Intenet.

  • They should have sold off their Laserdiscs and VHS back stock decades ago, but the VHS rentals are still priceless. If you are looking for an obscure film or TV movie Audio Video Plus was the only place you would find it. I rented John Waters “Mondo Trasho” and “Multiple Maniacs” last month. Many titles will never come out on DVD. Houston keeps getting less interesting every day.

  • I have been renting for 3 or 4 years at AVP. I am very sad to see them to be closing their doors.

  • Austin has a couple of video stores like Audio Video Plus, but Houston can’t even support one.

  • Stepping into Audio/Video Plus was like going back into time. It was if someone had closed the shutters of the store and locked them before the DVD boom. All of the rentals were on Betamax and VHS only, many/most of the titles were long out of print or extremely rare. Didn’t feel like paying $150 on eBay for that obscure-weirdo title? Come down to the store and you can rent it for next to nothing. If you were really lucky, they might even have a brand new copy you could purchase if you were willing to pay the retail value for the item in 1991. (Suncoast Video, anyone?)

    It saddens my heart that this place is closing. It was a rough-diamond in the rough. Like so many have already stated, it is a miracle it survived as long as it did. I never asked questions about how they were able to keep the doors open, I was just grateful that they did.

    I will miss the laserdisc room.
    I will miss the faded standees in the windows.
    I will miss not the awesome promotional items hanging on the walls throughout the store.
    I will miss not being able to open the exit door correctly on the first try and the sarcastic comments from the employees to follow.
    I will miss flipping through the title cards with laminated cover artwork and writing down the wrong numbers with my putt-putt pencil.
    If you don’t know what I am talking about, shame on you. Viva VHS!

  • I sure would like an copy of the original Bedazzled with Dudley Moore, long out of print and unavailable on DVD. But I haven’t had a VCR since the 90’s, hmm wonder if they’d have that in stock?

  • The original classic 1967 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore version of “Bedazzled” is not out of print on DVD and can be bought used on Amazon for 6 bucks. I went to see “Bedazzled” every year at the River Oaks in the 70’s. It was one of their most popular cult films. I bought four out of print VHS movies for five dollars each at Audio Video Plus last Saturday and checked their value online. They would have cost me over 100 bucks on Amazon. It’s a sad day for Houston.

  • I’ve had a membership there for almost 30 years. As some have mentioned, many products of the obscure variety have NEVER come out on DVD, and my not for a while for legal reasons. These fine folks never got rid of ANYTHING!! They carry more foreign language and silent movies than most places (when places like this existed everywhere) carry titles. Another blow to the artsy side of Houston, is losing this Mecca for Movies. My last purchase there was a Carol Burnett barbie doll, dressed like her roll in “Went With the Wind.” I got it for mom for Christmas.

  • I remember renting out a VHS video called “Soul Experience” at Audio Video Plus that was made up of clips from the old “Larry Kane Show” that used to run on Channel 13 in the 60’s and 70’s. Good luck on finding that tape anywhere.

  • AVP shuttered their galleria area location many years ago and I was impressed the Waugh location held on so long. Congrats to them for such a great run. We rented several obscure (nearly impossible to find) artsy vids from them over the years.

  • It’s actually good that these places still exist. The fantastic matter about rentals is that it is possible to normally get an limitless variety of audio books, tapes, CDs, and so on, to rent.

  • I agree with you Kathleen! It is good to see a store like these where anyone can go and find out what they want to rent as many as they want too. :)

  • Funny that the a business from Noo Yawk is spamming us with its pretend conversation over a period of two weeks.

  • I loved that store, it was a 1980’s time capsule. By the time I found it, there just wasn’t video stores like that anymore. There wasn’t a rare title that I asked for, that they didn’t have:)
    I have fond memories there and I even dreamt about it the other night. This store will be missed.

  • what is gonna be there? I heard that a mix use condo will be taking that whole block?

  • I echo Brian M. I want to know if there are any plans for this prime location. I can’t find anything about about a mixed-use condo, but that sounds interesting…would love to have some retail there that I could actually use!

  • Houston is just becoming another cookie-cutter Anycity. For the people who never understand the value of these kinds of places, you’d be happy any place. Another blokkk of f@#*%ing condos? For real? How interesting is that? More concerned with your property values it sounds to me than something that keeps the whole city ‘rich’. Diversity my ass.

    Meanwhile, i still have my Charlie Chaplin laserdiscs, my Disney boxsets, my Criterion Collection & my fond memories of both locations and the awesome folks who worked there. … Everyone’s favorite flavor is not ‘Vanilla’

  • I still have 2 of those blue foiled gumballs in my old lunch box…..guess I can’t get my free rentals anymore……I’m gonna miss this place. Had no idea it closed. I still remember as a kid renting all the Godzilla movies they had……..a chunk of my life long ago is still roaming in those many aisles, flipping through those plastic title covers, watching the same movie previews of chucky 1, lion king, etc. On that old TV with the big numbered buttons, and leaving so happy as I exited the store looking at the cutout stand of the terminator in those neon lighted display windows……I’ll miss you audio video plus…..thank you for the memories…..

  • Audio Video Plus’ remaining inventory (more than 100k of items) was acquired by Video Sanctum. If curious about the fate of this legacy video collection:

  • Updated link to the Audio/Video Plus Store Archive on the Video Sanctum web site.
    VHS and exploitation films live on!