A few weekends ago, my wife and I did something that took me back to when I was a kid. We rented a movie at Blockbuster.
I may be young by many people’s standards, but I’m old enough to remember when there were no Blockbuster Video’s. It used to be that most video rental stores were independently run, and there were “good” ones and “bad” ones depending on what they had in stock. Also, my family had a little different twist, since we had a Beta VCR and not a VHS VCR. Back then, my dad was on the cutting edge of technology, or at least he tried to be, since we had a Beta VCR and a Macintosh computer in the 80′s. Unfortunately, as history shows us, Beta lost the format war to VHS, and Apple lost to PC’s back then.
For a time, there were two video stores that had Beta movies to choose from. Then two stores turned to one store, and then one store turned to a couple of aisles, down to a shelf, down to nothing.
Dad had to break down and buy a VHS VCR.
About the same time, a new chain of video rental stores called Blockbuster Video came down from Dallas into Houston and into the rest of the country. This place was awesome. Blockbuster was clean and appeared reputable. They had more than one or two copies of a movie unlike at the other places where things were always rented out. In fact, Blockbuster usually had tons of copies of new releases and, for a time, they would guarantee new releases be in stock.
Now, as a movie fan, I’m well aware of movie-snobbery. At times, I’m guilty of such a thing. I know there’s an ambiance to the independent video store culture. And I know guys like Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson became great filmmakers from working at dingy video stores.
But they worked there! They could watch movies whenever they wanted. Heck, they were probably the reason that the movies you wanted were never in stock.
Without debating local versus chain stores, as a regular dude from a regular family who just wanted to rent a movie on a Friday night and expect that it be available. Blockbuster had that.
Now things have changed again. There’s Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, On-Demand, Redbox and any number of movie rental and watching options that I don’t even know about. Blockbuster is still there, and they’ve got Blockbuster Online, but as they once changed the game from local shop to national chain, it’s now shifting from national chain to on-demand and digital download.
We’ll see if Blockbuster can keep up, but in the meantime, it was good to stop by the old Blockbuster and browse the aisles of a clean store (well, somewhat clean these days) with bright lights, decent prices, and a large selection.
It makes me long for the days when you could order a pizza from Dominos and get it in 30 minutes or less or it was free. Those were the days.