Right, last time we remembered Select Video, one of the numerous video shops that I frequented between 1991 and 1994, this time I thought we would turn the spotlight on another, Video Llŷn in Pwllheli North Wales, who opened in the early 1980’s but have a distinction that very few rental shops have these days... they are still open in the 21st century!
(as in the Llŷn Peninsula, Gwynedd- North Wales)‘s story started with one Mr. Ian Jones who while working for a plastics firm noticed a demand for VHS clamshell cases. Surmising that VHS were going to be the next big thing he formed Video Llŷn on Sand Street in the market town of Pwllheli in November of 1983 and the move instantly proved to be popular one, so popular in fact that a second shop was opened twenty miles away on the High Street in Caernarfon in 1984 and a third, thirteen miles on New Street, Porthmadog in 1985. As Gwynedd and Anglesey is predominately rural,Video Llŷn also had five VW and Talbot Express vans that traveled all around, providing those unable to get to the shops the opportunity to get the latest video titles- even providing videos to the Valley Royal Air Force station on Anglesey. But the shops were the place to go to safeguard getting those latest releases. They even provided the video players themselves and offered a repair service (they even branched out to home computers, partnering with CPL Computers, the first Welsh language software company responsible for launching the first ever Welsh Language computer game in 1984).
|4 of the 5 Vans that provided videos to most of Gwynedd and Anglesey|
Its dedication to its Welsh roots helped Video Llŷn to form a partnership with Welsh record label, SAIN who reached out to the shop when the Welsh language channel S4C granted the copyright and distribution rights to some of their welsh language programming, Sain needed an outlet- a way to reach the Welsh speaking public and Video Llŷn was it. The likes of Superted, Wil Cwac Cwac and Sam Tân (Fireman Sam) would no longer be limited to S4C scheduling but be available on tape to the children of Wales (The very first Welsh language tape was Superted and cost £50!) Video Llŷn worked closely with SAIN with the marketing side of things and even organised events promoting the latest releases at local schools and in store promotional days such as the time Wil Cwac Cwac came to visit the Pwllheli shop on the 25th of May 1985 to meet local children and give out free posters and stickers and encourage them to buy his latest video.
There was one promotional ‘guest’ that visited the shop in 1990 however, that wasn’t so welcome, a Chinese Rat Snake! Debbie Evans, manageress of the Caernarfon shop received a special delivery in the shop one day and realised that the parcel in which she thought contained a rubber snake in fact turned out to be a live Chinese Rat Snake, sent as a publicity stunt by CIC Video, the distribution arm of Paramount Pictures whom had sent out 200 snakes (without prior warning) as publicity stunt to promote the release of Wes Craven’s Serpent and the Rainbow movie. The stunt managed to make the national newspapers and the News at Ten, raising issues about animal welfare and not the movie itself. What became of the Video Llŷn snake? Seems after appearing on the S4C news and front page of the Caernarfon & Denbigh news paper it disappeared whiles being transported from Caernarfon to Pwllheli...
Over the past few months I have had the great pleasure of archiving Video Llŷn, and we have been posting photos from days gone by on the shop’s Facebook page. So if you are local and want a nostalgia fix or you just like looking back at the glory days of video rentals join the Video Llŷn Facebook page and make use of the numerous galleries created for your viewing pleasure!
Local and tired of the rubbish that television has on offer? Perhaps you are visiting the area for your holiday and need some movies? Be sure to visit the shop, and show your support!
Tell them Arfon sent you!
Video Llŷn, High Street Caernarfon (1984- 2002)
Video Llŷn, New Street Porthmadog (1985- 2005)
My sincere thanks to Ian Jones for granting me access to the archives, putting up with all my questions and for all the movies!
© Arfon Jones 2020. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.