Many people will pass by a VHS tape at a yard sale or vintage store and see nothing more than a relic of the past, long forgotten, but one Woodstock man sees these old tapes as valuable, worthy of adding to his growing collection.

Anthony Sant’Anselmo, 45, grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, when video stores were popular destinations for many to purchase VHS tapes of movies and TV shows. These stores were a big part of Sant’Anselmo’s childhood. He said he dreamed for a while of transforming a basement into a “unique” man cave, but, because the family didn’t have a basement in their Los Angeles home, this wasn’t possible.

In July 2017, Sant’Anselmo and his family moved from Los Angeles to Woodstock, into a home with a basement — and the impossible became possible. There was one question to answer though for Sant’Anselmo, and that was what he should transform the basement into, he said.

“When we were thinking about moving to Georgia I told my wife that I wanted to have a basement so I could do anything I wanted to with it,” he said. “Once I had the basement, I decided I wanted to do something creative that inspires me daily as a writer, which was key for me. I originally thought about doing a replica of the Haunted Mansion from Disneyland, but something didn’t feel right. Once the idea of a video store hit me, I never looked back. Three years later, I’m still working on it. Nostalgia is a powerful drug for a lot of people, including myself.”

The video store, called Mondo Video, is home to over 8,000 VHS tapes. The roughly 8,000 VHS tapes span a variety of genres including romance, action, westerns, drama, horror, and science fiction. The video store also features a kids section, adult section, movie room, and even a gym, where there are movies and shows relating to sports, pro wrestling, martial arts, surfing, skating and working out.

There is also a kitchen area in the video store, which is home to a variety of movie titles related to foods. The kitchen also features a number of zombie movies, as well as titles from the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie franchise, adding a bit of dark humor to the area.

Adding to the retro and 80s aesthetic, the store is lit with neon lights and bright colors, with a vast number of movie posters, cutouts, puppets, dolls, and figurines scattered throughout. Synth-heavy music can be heard playing quietly throughout the basement, while movies are played in both the kids and workout areas. Each movie and TV show is carefully sorted into the proper genre section.

The horror section became a favorite for Sant’Anselmo to build, he said.

“As a kid the horror genre was a bit of a forbidden fruit for me because I went to a strict religious school and my mom didn’t want me watching horror, but I always gravitated to the horror sections of the video stores because of the crazy cover art of the movies,” he said. “I enjoy the horror genre, but I really love the horror aesthetics and VHS cover arts.”

The video store also features a theater room, with a collection of LaserDiscs displayed along the wall.

The basement also serves as Sant’Anselmo’s work space.

Sant’Anselmo is a writer, and has been an animator on “South Park” since 2003. Before the pandemic, he would fly back and forth between Los Angeles and his Woodstock home for work on the show. Since the pandemic began, he said he now works from home, using the additional space in the basement as an office.

On the progress of his basement, Sant’Anselmo said he will continue to collect VHS tapes and make additions to his video store.

“I know I can get to a point where it’s just too much, but right now I’m still going, and I am looking for a local graffiti artist to put up some art in the stairwell leading to the basement,” he said. “I want it to really feel like an outside, city exterior street. I’m also working with Signarama in Woodstock, who helped with the logo and signs for each genre, to create sub-genre signs for each genre to further organize my collection. It’s really a never-ending process.”

To see a walkthrough of the video store, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=K12MaaCn5PU. Interested parties can also follow Mondo Video on Instagram at mondo_video to see various movies from the collection.

Sant’Anselmo said that people have reached out to him, asking if they could donate their VHS tapes to him. He said he happily accepts VHS donations, and that one person even described his basement as a “no-kill shelter for VHS.”

Those interested in donating VHS tapes can email Sant’Anselmo at asantanselmo@gmail.com.

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