There might be people in Houston who are greater movie fans than Rob Arcos, but if there are, there can't be many.
Art Attack has known Arcos almost a decade. We slung popcorn and sacrificed blood to the ancient projectors at the Landmark River Oaks Theatre together, and we more or less keep in touch. When Cactus Music shut down several years back, we mourned not only the loss of a great music store, but also a video-rental outlet that was second to none. Then, when Quinn Bishop re-opened Cactus, the video-rental section didn't make the trip over. Luckily for Houston, that niche was filled four years ago by Arcos's Montrose DVD sanctuary Movies! The Store.
Finally, there was once again a place for people to go and browse for their movie-night selection. Yes, technology allows us to stream Netflix right to our TV, and you can pick up rentals for a dollar outside every convenience store and McDonalds, but that experience simply cannot compare with what Arcos built up.
The first thing we noticed when we began frequenting the store was an unusual, but highly effective, rating system. Arcos simply labeled each release with its score from RottenTomatoes.com. Without seeing some of the high scores given to some of the movies in the store's selection, we never would've seen such an awesome film as An Education.
Arcos didn't stop there. He regularly screened movies at Domy Books and cross-promoted within the independent-film community through his former employers at Landmark. Most of the store's charm, though, was the simple fact that you could go there and be guided by a knowing clerk who was an honest fan of film itself. Arcos's ability to steer people to the right film for them, possibly one they never would've rented otherwise, was simply uncanny. A customer at Movies! The Store was never, ever disappointed.
Except of course, when Arcos announced the store was shutting down.
The weakening of the traditional video rental market needs no explanation, and one bad summer too many was the straw that broke the camel's back. Arcos issued a release last month saying that all rentals would cease by Halloween. Houston's film fans were heartbroken.
But maybe they don't need to be.
The outpouring from patrons warmed Arcos's heart and gave him a lot of comfort and hope. However, you can't pay the electric bill with praise - believe us, we've tried.
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The public call for the store to remain open did have one very positive effect, though. It attracted several new investors and reinforced the faith of Arcos' current ones. The decision was made that Arcos would not liquidate as he was planning to, but would instead take six-months-to-a-year off in order to recuperate from four years of seven-day workweeks. The displays and movies would be put into storage, and Arcos is currently biding his time back at the River Oaks Theatre.
The Richmond location will not re-open, but Arcos will be holding a massive poster sale there this weekend. Arcos collects posters, and has over 600 of them. Nothing at the sale will be above $10, and the average price is $3. A full list of the posters available can be viewed on the store's Facebook page.
Once the sale is over, Arcos will finish the process of shutting down the location and continue to move on. He's under strict orders from his investors to rest for a while. However, Arcos's love for film and enthusiasm for helping to build the Houston film community continues unabated. The weekly screenings at Domy Books will still happen on Wednesday, and with more money offers pouring in from movie fans all over the city desperate for there to be one place left where a good selection of foreign, independent and mainstream DVDs can be browsed through to one's heart's content, he is planning to be bigger and better than ever upon re-opening. We eagerly await his return from hiatus.
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.