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As Seen on TV collection to be sold

January 22, 2010
Although it has only been closed for two years, for those of us who loved finding an obscure cult classic or a great documentary to rent, the absence of As Seen on TV on the Square has been deeply regrettable.
Begun in 1997 by the late Robert Freeland, As Seen on TV was an independent video store with an owner and employees that knew and loved film.
“In going through the collection it’s very obvious that Freeland had his fingerprints on all of it and he was very astute,” Lilly said. “These were his babies and Oxford lost a lot when he passed away.”
As Seen on TV’s business plan described the store’s central concept as being a form of entertainment in and of itself.
“The store will be a place to go and see, an attraction in and of itself and not just a place to rent videos,” the business plan stated.
Freeland was a beloved Oxford figure that worked at Fat Possum Records in 1990 and then went to Proud Larry’s where he helped book entertainment before helping relocate and expand Uncle Buck’s records. Freeland died in 2004.
Plans to reboot the store over the past two years have now passed and current owner of the collection Bill Lilly and Jamo have decided to sell the 3,500 films in inventory to locals.
“We were committed to making it succeed but Netflix has killed so many video stores,” Lilly said. “In larger markets like Portland or Atlanta, independent video stores are thriving because customers recognize that folks behind the counters know movies.”
Lilly purchased the store after Tom Freeland put it up for sale in 2007 but closed its doors in January 2008 after a rental increase made it difficult to remain on the Square.
“We have been sifting through for the past two years while it was in storage but it is such an immense project,” Lilly said.
The two began working seriously along with Lilly’s family to inventory the films. VHS tapes were provided to Salvation Army and are on sale currently and a small selection of DVD’s are on sale at the Main Squeeze.
Working with the Oxford Film Festival, Lilly will be selling the inventory at the Malco on Feb. 5-7 and 15 percent of the proceeds will go to the nonprofit festival. Whatever remains after the film festival sale will be sold at Main Squeeze.
“I don’t know if Jamo or Tom feels this way but I would like to think Robert Freeland would be pleased the collection was being sold in Oxford, not being dumped out in Ebay,” Lilly said.
Lilly said the collection includes a great documentary collection, mondo, strong classic, TV series, foreign film, music section, classic Disney but is light on material commonly found at chain stores.
Prices range from “essentially worthless” to $750 but most will be sold in the mid-range of $20-$40. Prices have been determined by searching for the lowest price on Amazon of the same DVD. Lilly, who moved back to Oxford in 2007 after spending 17 years in Atlanta, said that there is an emotional connection to the collection which makes it worth selling locally.
“It has changed so much, the old Oxford I knew is gone, the same people are here and some businesses are hanging on but the emotional attachment is less to the video store but the idea of seeing old Oxford going away,” Lilly said. “It is a lesson for all of us living in Oxford. If you like these local independent businesses please support them. It doesn’t take compassion. It takes you going in and spending money.”
A preview of the list will be available at the Oxford Film Festival table at the Oxford’s Indoor Yard Sale on Saturday at the Oxford Conference Center beginning at 10 a.m.
All films will then be sold at the Malco on Friday, Feb. 5 through Sunday, Feb. 7.
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