Are you feeling lucky, chain store?

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 2:20 p.m.

Look out, Blockbuster. There's a new sheriff in town.

Video Rodeo is a veritable rental roundup with an eclectic selection, offering obscure films as well as mainstream movies at $3 a pop.

University of Florida film and media studies professor Roger Beebe, 33, started the store during the holiday season. The name "Video Rodeo" out-wrangled fellow finalists Video Vanguard, Video Vault and Video A-go-go.

"But we aren't a honky tonk or Western theme," Beebe said.

"Although you're welcome to throw your peanut shells on the floor," store employee Michelle Tomasso interjected.

Frustrated with the absence of an independent video store in Gainesville, Beebe said he approached friends about creating an outlet to serve what he termed Gainesville's "midtown corridor," or West University

Avenue between the UF campus and downtown.

"Every town I've been to, traveling, seems to have some really cool video store with all this amazing stuff I've never even heard of," Beebe said. "It's (Gainesville is) a hip university town - people have good taste in movies."

Beebe aims to cater to the cinematically inclined by boasting better service and selection than do his chain-store counterparts.

"We like to do everything that Blockbuster doesn't," he said, citing his extensive collection of foreign films. "The movies might not have come out yesterday, but they might be better than `Soul Plane' or `Dodgeball.'"

Video Rodeo stocks recent releases, but it differs from traditional store setup by arranging a dominant segment of its 2,488 VHS and DVD films by director rather than by genre.

But Beebe stresses his store's chic approach to display doesn't reflect an artsy ego.

"We wanted to avoid being cliquey," he said. "We don't like being snobs - we like movies. We want people to be happy."

Video Rodeo aims to build on what customers already like about movies by introducing them to other work by their favorite directors or to more obscure films.

For example, one stretch of its animation shelves pits Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" against "Beavis and Butthead Do America" against "The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer," volumes 1 and 2.

In the comedy section, "The Wedding Singer" sits directly above "Splash," situated above volumes 7, 8 and 9 of "Monty Python's Flying Circus," above "The Bad News Bears Go to Japan."

"I think people would be happy to watch better movies if Blockbuster, Hollywood - whoever - would help them find them," Beebe said. "We're not trying to be movie snobs."

Additional sections among the store's stock include anime, musicals, classic films, documentaries, sub-indie films, television shows and a foreign collection featuring flicks from France, England, other parts of Europe, and Asia.

Video Rodeo is at 1119 W. University Ave.

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