, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

April 19, 2013

Movieland last of its breed in Mid-County

PORT NECHES — “So, what’s good?”

David Laurents has been asked that question time and again at his father’s business, Movieland Video, over the years.

And though he may not know what kind of movies the customer likes, he promises that they will always leave with something enjoyable.

It’s about 11 a.m. in the middle of the work week and Laurents has just finished a business transaction with the guys from Game Stop.

The mournful sound of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst plays as soft background music in this store that got lost somewhere in a different decade.

Movie posters line the walls while a TV blares new trailers on a continuous cycle. A few rows to the left start the vintage VHS collection, which includes the most obscure to the popular titles of the 80s and 90s.

Walking into Movieland Video, 2825 Nall in Port Neches, is the closest thing to stepping inside Dr. Who’s TARDIS and time traveling back to a time where every middle-class family hit the video store on a Friday night.

“We don’t like to move things,” Laurents, manager, son of the owner and the guy who keeps the place going, said. “It’s like a mini time-capsule.”

And after Blockbuster in Nederland shuts its door for the last time Sunday, it will be the last remaining video store in Mid-County.

Time capsule

Movieland, which has been open in Port Neches since the late ’80s, was not the first of its name. The first Laurent’s Movieland opened in Groves several years ago, Laurents said. At one point there were three separate locations, including one in Gillam Circle in Port Arthur.

“The first one was bought in the ’80s,” Laurents said. “We bought all the inventory from someone for this store (Port Neches) in 1987 or 1988 and had the other store in Gillam Circle for a few years, but it was a rough location to keep up.”

Laurents’ father owned the Groves store for some time before selling to family friends who kept it open as long as they could in front of Bruce’s Market Basket, but rented out its last movie at the end of 2012.

Movieland’s extensive inventory spans decades and includes movies in every format short of beta tapes. There are also video games of every genre from original Playstation and XBOX to current Wii reimaginings of Mario Kart.

But Laurents admits that with the changing entertainment market and their lack of advertising in the last 10 years, there are people who live down the street from the store who have no idea that it exists.

“We have very little Internet presence until I started a Facebook page a few months ago,” he said. “There are people who live three blocks away who walk in and say they didn’t know we were here for years; we’re in talks with a local daycare and apartment complex for some in-house advertising.”

With a tag-line like “Showing you non-corporate love since the early ’80s,” it’s no wonder that the store has remained open in the changing and often turbulent tide that the entertainment industry has become.

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