I visited the UK’s only VHS video rental shop and discovered why it's a mecca for film fans

The crazy story behind the UK’s only VHS video rental shop, VideOdyssey - right here in Liverpool.
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Ever get tired of endlessly scrolling for a film to watch? Well, get ready to step back in time to the days when you’d have to actually leave the house to rent a movie.

VideOdyssey, in Toxteth, is the UK’s only VHS video rental shop. Opened by Andy Johnson in 2018, it was first designed to be a conversation starter for independent filmmakers, the project then took on a life of its own.

The former video store worker started with his collection of around 400 VHS tapes, and now he’s amassed over 40,000. People send them in from all around the country. On average, they get around 200 donations a week.

Andy told LiverpoolWorld: "Conversations people have around film is something that we miss now because we just sit at home. Everything is disposable. You just log onto a streaming service and watch this, that and the other. Often you don’t even finish them. Whereas with the video shop, you’d invested your £1.50 or whatever it was, so you made sure you watched that film."

Andy Johnson opened VideOdyssey in Toxteth in 2018. Image: Emily BonnerAndy Johnson opened VideOdyssey in Toxteth in 2018. Image: Emily Bonner
Andy Johnson opened VideOdyssey in Toxteth in 2018. Image: Emily Bonner

Andy, who once travelled 600 miles to Scotland today to save 20,000 VHS tapes from being sent to the tip, says he is still keen to grow VideOdyssey’s collection. "We’ve got a lot of space here,” he says. “All we need is more shelving and more hands. So, keep bringing your donations in because it’s better than going into landfill and poisoning the planet."

The Full Monty, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Titanic are the most common donations, but Andy says a few might be pretty unusual in almost every collection they receive.

Andy said: "It keeps me motivated to think that I can reunite these tapes that have been stuck in someone’s garage or attic with a new audience. That’s part of the mission here that we’re here to save film."

Inside VideOdyssey in Toxteth. Image: Emily BonnerInside VideOdyssey in Toxteth. Image: Emily Bonner
Inside VideOdyssey in Toxteth. Image: Emily Bonner

The store, housed inside Toxteth TV on Windsor Street, offers vintage VHS players for rental alongside videotapes, private VHS screening rooms and a parade of 12 arcade machines.

  • To see the full interview with Andy and hear more about VideOdyssey watch the video at the top of this page.