Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blockbuster, We Hardly Knew Ya

Dateline, November 6, 2013.

Blockbuster Video announces the closing of their remaining stores.

Which begs the question...

Blockbuster still has stores?

The Blog is old enough to remember a time when there were no video stores.

If you saw (or missed) a movie when it was in the theaters, you either waited a couple of years until it came on the TV...


The occasional theatrical re-release.

The PC was in college when the concept of home video began. You could rent movies on tape, (BetaMax or VHS) from the rare video store. Assuming that you were rich enough to own a player.

The Blog purchased his first VHS recorder/player in 1984. It was a top-loader with a wired remote control.

Video stores were still pretty scarce. Mostly the VCR was used to tape movies like "Beastmaster" off of the cable innovation known as "Home Box Office."

After a few years, video stores began to crop up in strip malls.

They were "Mom & Pop" operations, mostly.

A third of the store, (the part in the front,) offered movies that had played in theaters a year before.

The real money was in the larger, back part of the store, behind a curtain.

The "Adult's Only" section.

At least, that is what I have been told.


The Blog did most of his video rental business with a store called "Video Choice," (or something like that,) in the Los Angeles South Bay.

The store was larger than most.

And, for better or worse, the guy working the counter was an interesting character.

He was, The PC assumed, a little bit off, mentally. In those pre-politiacally correct days, the counter guy was what we would call an "idiot savant." He knew everything about every movie in the store. At check-out, he would give me, the renter, a capsule review, (without spoilers) of the movies The PC was renting. Upon return..

                                                                    "Be Kind. Rewind!"
He would demand a review.

He was a little bit creepy. But, kind of fun.

His name was Quentin.

                                                           I wonder what ever became of him.

As so often happens, chain stores rose up, driving the independent stores out of business.

Blockbuster was the Walmart of video chains.

Blockbuster thrived for a while.

BetaMax fell to the more commercial VHS.

VHS was replaced by DVDs.

Then came Blu-Ray.

By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, video stores began feeling stiff competition from mail order companies like "NetFlix."

Stores were replaced by vending machines like "RedBox."

NetFlix went internet. VOD (video on demand,) and Hulu laid some business karma on Blockbuster.

Blockbuster tried to keep up.

But, as of November 6, 2013, Blockbuster didn't keep up fast enough.

From now on, if you want to rent a movie, you will have to do it over the internet, or, if you are a tech Philistine, rent that DVD from a machine in front of 7/Eleven.

Tonight, The Blog removes his Blockbuster Members Rewards Card from his keychain.

The world moves on.

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