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The Rise and Fall of the Video Store


Posted November 7, 2013 by

Today, Blockbuster announced that they were closing the rest of their stores. This is a sad day, but I take a little pleasure in it.

First, a little history. Once upon a time, we used to have to “go” to “stores” to rent movies. Phones were for talking on and computers were used for playing Pac-Man and text-based adventures. In order to rent movies, we would have to rent the movies from a store. At first, these were neighborhood places, run by people with a passion for movies. We would go to these places, normally with our “friends,” and argue over what movie to rent. This discussion would continue until the “clerk” came over to settle our argument. In those days, the clerk knew more about movies than anyone else we could find. They would tell us that the movie we were looking to rent was too mainstream and that we should instead look at renting some late 70s slasher that none of us had heard of. We always took his advice and it was always good advice.

Then came Blockbuster.

Blockbuster took this local mom-and-pop formula and mass-produced it. There were now Blockbuster video stores on every block. Soon, corporate competitors began popping up. Places like Hollywood Video and Family Video began opening up stores. But the model remained the same. Countless copies of the latest mass produced, heartless blockbusters were rented. When you asked the clerk their opinion on which movie to rent, instead of a passionate review of their favorite Kurosawa film and how The Hidden Fortress was an inspiration for Star Wars, you got a flippant response like, “Whatever.”

And now Blockbuster gets theirs.

While I do take pleasure in that, there is one thing that we have lost over the years.

We completely lost the community aspect of the local video store. I don’t think we will ever go back to that either. The convenience of Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, etc. etc. etc. surpasses that sense of community for most.

The loss of the video store is not all bad. Late fees are a thing of the past.

Unless you rent at Redbox in which case, you can still have your late fee.

Nathan Gifford

Nathan lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife, child and Zeus The Mighty, their dog. Nathan is a writer, a father, a songwriter, and a human.



    We take Truett to the Family Video in our neighborhood and it is one of the most magical thing for him. Foe me i would much rather sit down and just watch what i have Downloaded or rent a movie from On demand. So i think it is sad because kids still find it magical but its really not.


    During college, my boyfriend and I lived in about five separate cities, and whenever we moved somewhere new, the Hollywood Video and Blockbuster would close down. So our video store curse may have contributed to this inevitability!


    Good overview.
    It’s unfortunate. I think an adapted business model with online offerings and lower price brackets could have saved the “video store.” But, unfortunately, if we can’t have it immediately in this day in age………. we don’t want it.

    Ericalyn Padilla

    Most iof the blockbuster closed near me couple yrs ago so I have been using Redbox or ordering off my Directv. But do miss going into Blockbuster

    Alexander Kitsune

    its sad to see these stores of my childhood fall.


    The Blockbuster in my area has been turned into a car parts store. I miss going to it on the weekends and picking up a game. It’s how I discovered Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, and Kingdom Hearts! Hopefully Redbox and Gamefly can bring that same kind of joy that finding a hidden gem of a game.


    The good news is that the ones left around are now having going out of business sales.

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