Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS -

Former Four Star Video Owner Brian Armstrong Recollects His Rental Store Adventure and Shares His Reverence for the VHS Format!

For some people, VHS is a way of life. Four Star Video patron turned proprietor Brian Armstrong eats, breathes and sleeps video era appreciation; he spent the majority of 25 years within the video lined walls of his now defunct Nitro, WV rental shop. And now that the doors have come to their final close, Brian’s been able to look back at his analog adventure and share how his passion for magnetic magic helped him lend out a load of analog excitement, forge a connection with an abundance of customers and bond with a flood of fellow film crazed friends. Read on, lovers of analog excellence, ‘cause this is a slice of hometown rental shop heroics at its best…


A look at the Four Star Video storefront. Dig that drop box, mang.

LM: How did you get started with Four Star Video? When did it first open its doors? Four Star Video first opened in 1988. I spent so many hours in that store renting movies and just hanging out, so they offered me my first job and I went from working there for many years to owning the store for the past 8 years. About how many tapes were available for rent at the height of the store? At the height of the store, we had 7,000-8,000 VHS tapes for rent… anything you could want from horror to music tapes.


A peek at the Horror VHS section at Four Star. You know I can dig it.

What were the most rented titles? Was there a particular genre that went home with tapeheads more than others? No big surprise the most rented titles have always been horror movies, and I have to say the 80’s classics have always been popular… but we also carried a lot of odd ball horror titles, and for 2 bucks they rented quite often. Other than horror titles, wrestling and adult titles have always been big renters.


A VCP much akin to those lent out to patrons of Four Star Video to help make the magnetic magic happen, man.

You rented VCRs, too, right? What else do you think your shop (and other Mom and Pop stores) provided that chain rental stores couldn’t offer? We actually rented VCPs (Video Cassette Players) in the cool little carrying cases. I remember the weekends when we rented every VCP in the building, plus hundreds of VHS tapes. It’s hard to explain to the younger generation how cool video stores used to be… when you would walk to the horror section and not have a clue what you wanted to watch but somehow always came home with something cool. When you brought DVD in the shop, did you get rid a lot of the VHS stock? Did you keep the stuff that was only available on tape? We really didn’t want to bring DVDs in, but the demand was too high for them. We just squeezed them in; I didn’t want to get rid of any of the VHS Tapes


Four Star Video Transformation! Top photo is 1988 and bottom is just last year. Dig the real photos.

Did the VHS stock still rent after the DVD came in? Did you see some folks that stuck to VHS no matter what? VHS always rented, even up to the very end of the store. Some people really just like VHS and some that came in to rent or purchase VHS just wanted to see what it was like or relive some old memories. What’s happened to all the VHS stock now that the store is closed down? I sold the Horror VHS section to one of my friends that was just getting into VHS. So, I thought it was like passing the torch… and as far as the rest of the VHS, I sold a bunch of them as the store was closing… and the rest are boxed away.


Some groovy Four Star goodies left over from the years of rental-rama. Brain was kind enough to send me a keychain. IT RULES.

Is there any particular anecdote or customer from the store that sticks out for you? I know you might have a few after 25 years! I have so many memories from my 20 plus years in that store. Something cool did happen when I decided to close the store, one of my old VHS customers came in and thanked me for selling him BLOOD FEAST years ago. He said he still has it setting on the shelf. How did you feel when the store has to close down? What are you doing now? I was devastated when I realized that I had to shut the store down. I am thankful for working and owning that store for half of my life. I truly do miss that store, but I’m ready for the next chapter in my life. I work full time at Cooke Funeral Home, but no matter what I am VHS for Life.


And here's some groovy official threads from Four Star. This bad boy is over 20 years old... Vintage Video Store Excellence right here, my frands.

Why do you think it’s important for people to have the rental experience, and what do you think people are missing out on with the way they consume films in today’s world? Like I said before, going to the video store was so cool for me. It really wasn’t about what they had new; it was all about the old stuff I hadn’t seen yet, and it really sucks that the younger generation doesn’t have the pleasure of spending time in a video store horror section. Anything else you’d like to share with all the Tapeheads out there? I am thankful for the friends I have met through VHS/Movies or my Video store. I just hope VHS tapes never die out … VHS FOR LIFE !!

You got that right, my friend! Brain’s analog commitment is indeed inspiring. Though Four Star Video has since closed up shop, the profusion of videos and oh so many rentals of the years gone by are still echoing through the analog era zealots that carry the warmth of the VHS torch. And that’s pretty groovy, man. Huge analog ups to Brian for all the work he’s put in over the years keepin’ customer’s VCRs fed and for being an all-around VHS vindicator. Brian, WE SALUTE YOU!

Groove and Groove and Watch VHS Every Day.

Josh Schafer

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