THE VISUAL HISTORY OF AUDIO/VIDEO PLUS: The Origin of the AVP Logo
The rewind-inclined regulars here at Lunchmeat are well aware that the preservation of home video history and culture is the main objective in our overall mission. So, when Video Sanctum main-brain Benny Junko approached us with the intention of using our channel as a platform to share the hidden yet impossibly complete history of Audio/Video Plus, we were all aboard, dude. But first, a bit of information and contextualization is in order, just to get everyone up to VHSpeed.
The AVP Storefront, now vacant, after many years of video excellence. Photo by Jack Lawrence.
Established in 1979 by proprietors Lou Berg and Susan Gee
A collection of photos from the Audio/Video Plus archive. Images courtesy of Benny Junko / Video Sanctum.
At the height of AVP in the mid-1980s, the store boasted one of the largest video libraries in Texas. At their closure in 2012, the store had built a VHS rental library of 60,000 titles and at least two-thirds of these repeated on Betamax. The store also held a stockpile of warehoused retail VHS and Betamax spanning the entirety of the three decades from its origin in the late 70s. The heir to that immense amount of video treasure is Benny Junko, who is the night manager over at Video Sanctum, and now the official archivist for the Audio/Video Plus empire. Through Junko’s stewardship of the exhaustive AVP archive, and a connection to the original owners, he has amassed a complete documented history of this magnificent independent video store, featuring 32+ years of communication, photos, catalogs, various paper ephemera, found footage, and of course, myriad stories of influence and culture. We here at Lunchmeat are absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to share these pieces of AVP’s home video history with you over the next several months, which is undoubtedly an incredible opportunity for intimate insight on the often shadowy and undocumented details of the video era. Before we dive in to the first installment of this radical remembrance, know that this ongoing online retrospective is in anticipation of a full-on published documentation of AVP, complete with anecdotes from employees, customers, and the owners of AVP, and of course, a chronicle of incredible visuals and sundry ephemera from the wonderful 30+ years of AVP’s influential existence.
More visions into the rich history of Audio/Visual Plus! Photos courtesy of Benny Junko / Video Sanctum.
Now, let’s start at the very beginning. What’s a business without a logo? Here we present the initial sketches and ideas for the Audio/Video Plus imprint, detailing all of the potential variations, and the eventual decision on the iconic logo that graced its storefront, and everything else representing AVP. It’s rare that we’re able to see the process of a logo creation from its conception to execution for any entity. And I think we can all agree that logos and iconography play a major part of the retrospective appreciation of the video era, and resultantly communicate something more than just a logo; it communicates persuasions, aesthetics, and a body of work e.g. the Vestron “V”, the Unicorn Video rainbow, and the grinning, top-hat-sporting skeleton of Midnight Video. They’ve all become mini-icons in their own right. For a video store with such significance as Audio/Video Plus, this chronicle of the logo creation makes it a truly special treat for video era enthusiasts everywhere. Let’s have a look at the first sketches.
Lou Berg founded Astro Audio-Visual in 1978 as a sales, rental, and video production company that operated out of a warehouse in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. By 1979, home video was entering the market and he and Susan Gee partnered with a local theater owner to open one of Houston’s first independent video stores. Playing on the Astro name, the new video retail endeavor was to be known as Audio-Video Plus. The new store would provide sales, equipment (hardware and software), and service related to home movies. The store carried VCRs for VHS and Betamax along with camcorders, blank media, and select high-end stereo equipment. The store ordered the entire catalog from Allied Artists to provide a rental stock to their new customer base. This original sketch above provides the initial marketing pitch from an agency to devise the store’s logo. The following variant original sketches were considered as final contenders. The block lettering was arranged from the literal AUDIO VIDEO + to the more abstract.
The final font design appears here below in this printer’s proof that was sent out to newspapers for local and periodic advertising. While the font would remain in this design throughout the store’s duration, the background was eventually altered from black jagged oval (Texas Chainsaw Massacre insert ID) to a lighted marquee border (Zombie Island Massacre insert ID) which was a direct matchup of the store’s new lighted sign installed in the late 1980s. The logo backgrounds are displayed in the rental identification cards from their respective periods.
This original patch shown below is from Audio/Video Plus’ heyday when the store employed more than 30 people including sales staff, maintenance and service technicians, and a crew that expressly dispatched to design and build sets for larger-than-life in-store promotions of upcoming releases.
And below, you'll see a Ghostbusters jumpsuit from RCA Columbia Pictures Home Video which was modified with Audio/Video Plus patch for some in-store ghostbusting just after the store was slimed during the film’s release on home video. ACTUAL PHYSICAL CONTACT!
And there are so many more incredible visions and fascinating stories from the rich history of Audio/Video Plus to come. Stay tuned. We can’t wait to continue to share this story with you. ED NOTE: Do you have a story or connection to A/V PLUS? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment, or contact us directly via our website. You may also reach out to VCR
Groove and Groove and He Slimed Me.
Josh Schafer & Benny Junko