Industry Veteran Jim Salzer Dies

Jim Salzer, a veteran Southern California home video retailer, died early March 15 after suffering a second fall.

Salzer, whose Salzer’s Music in Ventura remains one of the area’s top sellers of physical media, had been hospitalized after an initial fall in late February. Shortly after noon on Sunday, March 15, he posted to Facebook, “I can’t keep up with Facebook currently. I’m having a bad time with recovery. See you on the flip side.”

His daughter, Sage, writes on his Facebook page that in the late afternoon, “my dad and I FaceTimed and a few more hours passed and he is gone. Grateful for the countless hours we spent around the clock with him in the hospital after he took the first fall, breaking neck and back.”

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The Ventura County Reporter in August 2016 published a cover story on Salzer to commemorate his 50th anniversary in retailing.

Salzer’s first music store, according to the article, opened in 1966 in South Oxnard, Calif., but lasted only six months. One of his early customers was Jimi Hendrix, who came in to buy a new amp.

Jim Salzer

After several more moves Salzer’s  Old Fashioned Mercantile opened in 1972 at its present location, just west of the 101 freeway. When the home video industry began in the latter part of that decade, Salzer joined the growing throng of music retailers who began renting movies issued on the VHS videocassette.

The home video industry grew rapidly, and in 1980 Salzer opened a standalone video rental store in a former gas station across the street from his record store. “Salzer originally intended the space for parking, but the popularity of video convinced him to turn it into a retail outlet,” according to the VC Reporter. One of his first customers was Steve McQueen.

Salzer in the 1990s had served on the board of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), the home video industry’s trade association, and was a fixture at the VSDA’s annual summer conventions, which were mostly held in Las Vegas.

Before venturing into retail more than 50 years ago, Salzer was a concert promoter, producing shows in Ventura, Santa Barbara and elsewhere in Southern California by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Buffalo Springfield.

Fellow retailer Monty Winters wrote on Facebook, “I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of one of my dearest friends. … I am so glad we spoke last week. What an incredibly generous man. A great father, husband, grandfather, businessman, rock promoter, and community activist. When I was thinking of opening my video store in the early ’80s, I called Jim in California and we talked for hours about the video biz. He sent me blueprints for the fixtures I used in my video stores. … OMG, the stories this man could tell about Jim Morrison/The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, and many others.”

A native of Chicago, Salzer was 78. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and children Sage and Brandon.


4 thoughts on “Industry Veteran Jim Salzer Dies”

  1. First Fall??? What happened that would cause him to break his back and neck?
    Second Fall??? What happened that a second fall would kill him? {;(

    1. Nice job TK – appropriate to have you write this. Jim was unlike any other single video store owner I knew. He was aware (would they say “woke” these days – he was smarter than the term suggests), focused on industry issues, especially those impacting single store owners. He wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and debate with Bill Mechanic, or other studio leaders. He never bragged to me about his concert promotion days. I thought I knew him fairly well, but after I left the industry, his FB revealed just how connected to entertainment he’s been his entire career. Nancy was always a pleasure to see at events, especially given that I’ve been married to a Nancy for 40 years. His political postings on social media are all you need to know about how he felt about people. We never had a negative exchange and nobody ever said a negative thing about him to me. I know he’s left an immense hole in the lives of those who are closest to him – may they all find their own peace in dealing with his departure.

  2. Jim was a friend in the early days of his stores. I attended most of his concerts at Earl Warrens and Hollywood Bowl. Got the black light poster too. All for $3.00. Great guy. He had an amazing business mind at an early age. So sorry he passed away. I wish peace and serenity to Nancy and his kids.

  3. I heard that he had passed away on the radio, I remember him when I was a teenager , I lived across the street from him when he lived on deodar ave .in Oxnard across from the old St. John. I used to see him go to work with his briefcase in the morning , I would be sitting having breakfast with my grandmother, he seemed such a strong but simple man. He had a beautiful yellow corner house . And I thought one day I’d like to be just like that. Jim , you probably never new me but you were a great example. Godbless.

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