After nearly 28 years of serving the Dallas LGBT community, Dave Richardson and Todd Seaton will turn over ownership of TapeLenders Video to longtime employee Mark Milburn and his partner Chris Lynch in August of this year.
"It’s time for some new owners with fresh ideas and directions," Richardson said.
"Mark has worked with us for eight-plus years now as our video buyer, assistant manager and now current manager. I am very proud of his accomplishments with TapeLenders and truly believe he and Chris will make a good team to take over ownership of our company.
"They are very excited about the challenge and have some great ideas to launch a new era of business for the store. They have the knowledge and capability to make it a whole new store with up-to-date and far reaching goals."
Lynch has worked in corporate retail for JCPenney and with his family, in their franchise store in Oklahoma, for more than 10 years. He brings knowledge that will be used to expand Tapelenders (www.tapelenders.com) into a viable online retailer.
With the massive improvements to the building being launched by Harry B. Lucas Co., the property management company for the center, in approximately three months there will be a total upgrade and fresh appearance. The old, outdated awning and mansard storefronts will be replaced by fresh contemporary stucco, brick and architectural fittings, including new glass storefronts for all the spaces.
New trees, sidewalk designs, planters, park benches, hand railings, and outdoor lighting will brighten the look of the whole center from the corner of Throckmorton through the Round-Up Saloon. TapeLenders also plans to launch a total interior remodel to coincide with the exterior upgrade.
Founder Steven R. Freeman, Richardson’s former partner, opened TapeLenders in September of 1981. The store was located at 3910 Cedar Springs in one half of what is now Zen Clipz. Freeman maxed out his credit cards to purchase 50 Beta video tapes and set up shop. This was before computers were being widely used in retail, so TapeLenders had only a library card file with members’ contact information and rental activities. Richardson became manager of TapeLenders in 1983. The store was struggling at the time because the industry was in a change from Beta to VHS formats, but with a few changes and expansion of the store to twice its size, it began to steadily succeed.
On leap day, February 29, 1992, Freeman and Richardson opened TapeLenders in the space where it is today. TapeLenders has experienced a strong and steady growth over the years. It has amassed the world’s largest and most complete gay and lesbian film library, with more than 10,000 titles to offer. It has been quoted as being the "most unusual video store in the world" and has the dubious distinction of being the "cruisiest place in Dallas outside the bars."
Thanks to the support of a strong gay community TapeLenders has stood in the face of competition and succeeded in overshadowing Blockbuster and Hollywood video stores in revenues and longevity. At one time its active membership base was over 60,000, and it ranked in the top 20 fastest-growing video stores in the entire country.
"I am confident that Mark and Chris will be able to take over TapeLenders and launch it into a whole new era of community entertainment and ensure its success for another 28 years," Richardson said. "We wish them all the best."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 3, 2009.