Winona’s independently owned Video Vision, once located at 722 Bluffview Circle, has a unique bragging right in the home-video industry: it was both the first and last video store in town, operating from 1987 until 2019, when its owner Dennis Darst retired.
It’s also perhaps the first video store in Minnesota to be transformed into an Airbnb rental, where you can spend a night in one of four converted spaces designed to reflect key local hotspots, history, and culture—with the occasional tribute to its cinematic history.
Michael “Mike” Onstad of Black Squirrel Properties, LLC, purchased the building from Darst in 2019, then spent the next two years gutting the building—dividing it into four boutique-style rooms, adding five new bathrooms, and designing each room with a unique sci-fi theme—including the 1958 NASA Code Name, 1928 Giant Squid Discovery, 2078 Alien Robots Invasion Room, and the 1974 Bigfoot Devours Bloedow’s (all ranging from $80 – $100 a night). The four rooms were listed for rental in May.
To bring this sci-fi-meets-Winona vibe to life, Onstad enlisted the help of Sarah Johnson—Winona’s first creative laureate and founder/owner of Joy Labs—to create signature art pieces for each room, conveying the theme of “Fictional Moments in Winona History.” They highlight some of their favorite parts of town: Bloedow Bakery’s donuts, Sugar Loaf Bluff, the lakes, and—of course—Video Vision itself.
Each room features one to two queen beds, a mini fridge, TV (with Netflix), keyless entry, blackout curtains, “fluffy towels and cozy bedding” (the owner’s words) and more, depending on which themed room you choose.
The entryway is decorated with an assortment of movie posters starring Hollywood actress Winona Ryder, including A Scanner Darkly, Edward Scissorhands, and Uncle Buck—paying homage to the building’s history and the city’s name.
The goal is to create a space that honors Winona—from its downtown shops to city festivals—while commemorating the history of this retro building.
Check out Video Vision’s new life on Instagram at @videovisionvacation.