Long-time South Austin video store Vulcan Video sees community support

General Manager Jacob Knight shows off the store's selection of Asian films.

General Manager Jacob Knight shows off the store's selection of Asian films.

Image description
Cult classics
Image description
VHS
Image description
fullsizeoutput_8a
Image description
Taps and tapes
When Vulcan Video first opened its doors in 1985, the home-video industry was booming, and mom and pop rental stores like Vulcan were setting up shop all over Austin, according to General Manager Jacob Knight.

Now, after weathering the rise and fall of Blockbuster and the emergence of streaming technology, Vulcan is one of only two locally owned video rental stores in the city.

Maintaining business in the face of new technology, however, has not been easy. Vulcan was forced to vacate its iconic location on Elizabeth Street several years ago when the property was sold for redevelopment, Knight said. The Russell Street location is Vulcan's last, and recent rent hikes coupled with declining business put the store in a financial bind, according to Knight.

In May, Knight and Operations Manager Matt Taylor started a GoFundMe campaign to help Vulcan maintain business through the end of its current lease and included an open letter about the store’s value to the community on the page.

“We wanted to remind people that we’re still here and we still want to be of service to Austin’s film community,” Knight told Community Impact Newspaper. “We put out the bat signal, except with two Vs flying through the air instead of a silly cartoon bat.”

Knight said he believes stores like Vulcan are community hubs, offering an experience streaming brands like Netflix do not.

“It’s a place where people can come together and find their own strange family members,” Knight said. “You can’t talk to the algorithm [that Netflix uses to suggest films]. You can talk to the guy behind the counter.”

Knight said Austin’s film community is deeply interconnected. Some of Vulcan’s customers work for the Austin Film Society and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, while others are the average film lover, he said.

Many Vulcan customers also rely on staff’s knowledge to navigate the store’s stock. Vulcan offers an expansive archive of titles on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, from obscure 1980s slasher pictures to the films of foreign auteurs to cult classics and new releases. Some of the titles were never distributed on DVD or streaming sites.

“Without places like this, those kinds of films die,” Knight said

The response to the GoFundMe has been greater than Knight could have imagined, he said, with over $26,000 raised in the first 30 days.

“The best case scenario is that this gets rediscovered and reaffirmed as part of the Austin cinephile community,” Knight said. “After the wave of support we’ve received, it’s hard to feel anything but hopeful for the future.”

--
Vulcan Video


Southwood Shopping Center, 4411 Russell Drive, Austin
512-326-2629
www.facebook.com/vulcanvideo
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10:30 a.m.-midnight, Sun. noon-11 p.m.
By Olivia Aldridge

Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.


MOST RECENT

Animal adoption, foster numbers up as Austin community comes together to support shelters

Austin animal shelters report increases in animal forster applications, adoptions and intakes.

Austin and Travis County adopted new guidelines, recommending local residents wear face masks or fabric covering when out in public. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Austin health officials are tracking 8 clusters of confirmed coronavirus cases

The clusters are groups of coronavirus cases health officials know are related to one another.

A $4.3 billion project to improve I-35 through Central Austin will include a $600 million piece that will be provided by deferring other projects in the area. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
Local political leaders look to free up $600 million for I-35 by potentially waiting on local projects such as Loop 360, RM 620, US 79 and Parmer Lane

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is scheduled to vote April 13 on a list of projects to defer in order to fund an I-35 improvement project.

Minerva, captured here, is an eastern screech owl in Northwest Austin who laid five eggs that are expected to hatch sometime in April. (Courtesy Merlin the Owl)
WATCH HERE: Northwest Austin webcam streaming owlet eggs set to hatch in April

A Northwest Austin resident set up a webcam to capture two owls raise their owlets.

Yesenia and Antonio Morales welcomed their fourth child, Luka, on March 31. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pregnancies won't stop in a pandemic, but growing precautions leave expecting mothers uncertain and anxious

As the coronavirus tightens its grip on Austin and much of the world, inevitable human events such as pregnancy and childbirth are having to adapt in the new, cautious and socially distanced reality.

Coronavirus stories readers might have missed from the Austin area

Here are nine stories Austin-area readers might have missed in our previous coverage.

Gregory Fenves will step down as the president of the University of Texas on June 30, according to a letter he wrote April 7 to the UT community. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
University of Texas President Gregory Fenves to leave for Emory University in Atlanta

University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves announced in a letter to the UT community that he will leave the state’s flagship college for Emory University.

The Austin ISD board of trustees met for a virtual board meeting April 6. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD approves new grading policy for coronavirus-impacted spring semester

Austin ISD will temporarily switch to a “pass or incomplete” grading scale for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historical sites due to coronavirus concerns

Abbott said the closure is to help prevent large gatherings and strengthen social distancing.

VIDEO: Texas Tribune interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar about the coronavirus's effects on the state economy

At 8 a.m. April 7, The Texas Tribune will host a live interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, conducted by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

Austin and Travis County adopted new guidelines, recommending local residents wear face masks or fabric covering when out in public. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus update: Travis County reports seventh local coronavirus death

This post will include updates from Travis County and the city of Austin for the week of April 6, including daily case counts. For local updates from March 30-April 5, please click here.