Blockbuster's Credits Roll: Are We Seeing the Death of the Video Store?

Linda Sharps

A long, long time ago, I worked in a video store. It was the perfect job for a teenage slacker who loved movies and jobs that didn't require me to do much more than stand around all day and maybe dust some shelves. We had VHS tapes back then, which had to be rewound and taken apart and patched back together when they made the movies skip, and we had to walk uphill to school both ways. In the snow.

I remember when Disney re-issued box cover art for The Little Mermaid, because there was, like, TOTALLY A PENIS IN THE CASTLE.

Oh, and I remember when a lady asked me what my favorite movie was that I'd seen recently, and I told her Reservoir Dogs, and she took it home, then came screeching back into the parking lot a few hours later and hurled the box at my head, screaming that she'd taken it home and tried to watch it with her kids.

Ah, good times.

Well, teenage shelf-dusting slackers are going to have to find work elsewhere, because Blockbuster Inc—basically the last man standing in the retail video store industry—has just filed for bankruptcy. Battered by digital competition, Netflix, and Redbox kiosks, Blockbuster's looking to break leases and close hundreds of stores.

They're hoping to transform their business to keep up with the times, but in the meantime they've got nearly $1 billion in debt.

I'm not surprised at the news; in our neighborhood we've seen two or three Blockbusters pack up and disappear during the last year or so. Our own household primarily uses Netflix and some on-demand rentals; it's been a long time since I've wandered the shelves of a video store.

It's kind of sad, though, don't you think? I have so many memories of video stores, from the time when I worked in one to my years as a customer. Shuffling along the new release wall trying to make a choice (without built-in reviews to help me decide), peeking at what other people were renting, being tempted by the candy aisle. It's just weird to think those stores may be gone altogether, and almost feels like a depressing commentary on our social lives in general—how we're continually replacing real human contact with digital interactions.

But maybe I'm just getting sappy in my old age.

Will you miss video stores?

Image via Scott Clark/Flickr

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