Streaming services killed the video store.
This is just a fact. I am not hating on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and countless other streaming services where you can rent & buy new releases from the comfort of your own home. It is convenience at it’s finest but there is one night a week where I truly, madly, desperately want to go back to the days of the video stores like Blockbuster to rent a movie. That night is FRIDAY NIGHT.
I didn’t realize it then but going to a Blockbuster or any video store was an absolute adventure filled with excitement, intrigue, and sometimes disappointment and sadness. It was just like a movie.
I grew up on watching movies with my family. Our preferred family language is movie quotes and not a sentence can be uttered without replying with some variation of a movie quote. It’s who we are, it’s what we do. The fond memories I have of that time are nostalgic, yes, but they were also an important part of growing up. There were life lessons in those video stores. On certain Friday nights we would go up to our local Blockbuster, Hastings, or even the little video store that was inside of a Wal-Mart and look for a movie to watch. The rules were usually pretty simple. We would go for a new release for the entire family to watch (this usually meant my parents decide and we enjoy) and we usually got to get a one or two from the “favorites” section which were usually 5 night rentals for .99 cents.
Friday nights in the 90’s were great. Not only did I have TGIF to watch but I also got to rent a couple of movies? It was an exciting time for a kid and an exciting time for a movie lover. You never knew what you would find at the video store. New movie releases where you had to look at the back of the cover to see what the movie was about. You scanned to see if you recognized an actor you admired “Hey, it’s the new Harrison Ford movie”. Sometimes you would even go up there with the intent of getting a new release and heading straight to the alphabetical area to rent that movie. The catch was: IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT and everyone is there to rent movies.
Friday Nights at Blockbuster was like a night club for families. You had to have a Blockbuster card to get in essentially and you had to wait in line. Every so often, if we were feeling brave, we would venture to the “horror” section. My parents were wise to this so they kept a pretty close eye on us but just going through the different aisles and discovering different movies for the first time was a very exciting endeavor.
There was a social aspect about going to the video store that I feel like we all kind of need in today’s society. Yes, it is utterly convenient to be able to stream any night of the week any movie you want. BUT, there was something cool about being at a place with other people and families doing the same thing you were doing. Sharing a smile, even if they did take the last copy of LIAR, LIAR. It was just a fun little movie adventure and there was a sense of community at the local video stores. A sense of everyone sharing this same goal of renting a movie to watch with their families after a long week of school and work. Picking out the type of candy and soft drinks you wanted while holding the movie you picked out like a maguffin in a Steven Speilberg film.
I know nostalgia has a lot to do with things like this and it is actually a lot easier on families now to just go straight home from work and stream a video all in the comfort of your home but I love that I grew up in a time where video stores were at their peak. Where I discovered new films, new actors, new candies all while sharing this space with other like minded individuals. That no matter the differences in our lives, cultures, or movie tastes that in that moment. At that Blockbuster. On that Friday night, we were all there to share an adventure of renting movies and watching them with our families that night.
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