While it might be for the best, the death of the video store is not something to forget.
Requiem for a Video Store: Looking Back on the End of an Era
It has come out this week that last 300 Blockbuster Video stores are closing their doors. To many, this comes as no surprise (unless the surprise is that there were still 300 stores around). Video stores across the country have been dwindling for years. This began because of such business as Netflix (with its DVD by mail & later instant streaming) and Redbox and later with digital downloads. Instant access to movies and TV shows has made it so much easier to get and watch content. At the same time, it has for the most part eliminated the need for a physical brick and mortar store. While I am all for innovation (I have used Netflix for several years now and prior to that used the DVD by mail program that Blockbuster had), I also look back fondly at the time when one had to get into a car to find a movie.
I am a child of the 1980s. Ever since as far as I could remember, there were such places as video stores. I grew up in a small town so we didn’t have a Blockbuster but we had local video stores. At one time in the late 80s/early 90s, we had three such stores. This was of course during the time of VHS tapes. I can remember on Friday evenings as a kid going to the store with my parents and going through the aisles to look for the latest movies that had been released (as well as some classic cartoons) that I wanted to watch. If it was popular or very new, there might be multiple copies available. If there was just one copy, you either were fortunate to get it or you’d have to wait until the next trip.
Another key component of the video store was of course video games. Just as important to rent VHS tapes was video games. It was a great way to try out new released games to see whether you wanted to buy it later on or not. So just as much to get movies, video stores were a great place to get NES (and later SNES and Genesis) games to rent as a kid and as a teen.
When I was in college, there was a Blockbuster that was right across the street from campus. There were many trips over to rent movies (VHS & DVDs) or games (by that point PS1 & PS2 games) and be entertained. It was exciting to find the movie or game I was looking for and on the flip side very frustrating when that movie or game was out. But it was a part of life. It was what one went through to watch movies or play games.
Now that has changed, you can stream movies on computers, tablets and TVs at the press of a button. But there is something to walking down aisles and seeing rows of cases of movies looking for what you want to see. And though one can rent some video games through Redbox, it’s not the same as going to a store and having a wider selection and the ability to even rent video game systems.
The institution of the video store as a whole is gone. There are some local indie video stores that are still around I believe. If they are where you live, frequent them if you are able. Like I said, there’s something about walking down aisles of movies to find the one you want to watch. And remember to think fondly of the video store. I know that I will have good memories of them.