Thanks to Horror, Business is Booming at This Florida Video Store


Image: Mike Sandlin

We all have to acknowledge that the days of the brick-and-mortar video rental shop are a distant memory in the streaming age. But those who remember the thrill of browsing the horror aisle in their favorite video store may be interested to know that that era hasn’t died out completely… in fact, in the case of Grindhouse Video in Tampa, Florida, it’s alive and in excellent health.

In a recent article in the Panama City News Herald, store owner Mike Sandlin is often overwhelmed with orders from around the world.

“I did like $2,000 in sales
on Saturday,” he revealed.

Image: Mike Sandlin

Sandlin established Grindhouse Video five years ago in a small strip mall, and the 2000-square-foot store has been thriving ever since – first from word of mouth, and then thanks to some modest but successful advertising. Other stores in the strip are dedicated to comics and vinyl records, making it a one-stop destination for physical media collectors.

The store features virtually every category of cinema in multiple formats (including VHS tapes, which fill an entire room), but Sandlin told the News Herald the store owes its success to one niche in particular: horror and exploitation movies. (Hence their well-chosen name.)

Image: Mike Sandlin

Sandlin went on to say the store has drawn customers from across the US and beyond. While he does a large amount of business online, fans of physical media have been flocking to the store itself – as an example, he mentioned an Australian couple who had been vacationing at Walt Disney World, but upon learning about the store, made a road trip across Florida to seek it out.

“I’ve had people from Japan, Europe… literally coming to Tampa because of the store,” he told the News Herald. “It’s becoming a bit of a destination because there’s nothing like it.”

Among Grindhouse Video’s motherlode,
new releases from Shout Factory, Arrow Video and Vinegar Syndrome sit alongside
long-out-of-print titles and limited re-releases from boutique companies, most
of whom know Sandlin by name. The store even sports a section devoted to horror
movies filmed in the Tampa area.

Image: Mike Sandlin

Social media has played a major role in boosting Grindhouse’s profile, and Sandlin has begun staking out booths at horror and movie-collectors’ conventions, where fans often recognize him and the Grindhouse name.

45-year-old Sandlin traces his obsession with grindhouse cinema back to the Mom & Pop video store boom of the 1980s… and now he’s living a dream that similar fans share: turning those fond memories into a thriving business. It’s become so successful, in fact, they’re going to need a bigger store.

“The next place won’t be less than 5,000 square feet,” he said.

Be sure to check out Grindhouse Video’s website, and you can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.





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