Videoflicks, my neighbourhood video store, is closing. It’s the place my brothers and I would bike down to on Saturday night to pick up several VHS for a night of popcorn and movies when we first moved into the neighbourhood. This is not a mega-video emporium, but a family-run-been-there-as-long as-I can-remember video store; and at the end of the month it will close
For years we had been hearing about the financial woes of Blockbuster and its rivals and the inevitable came last September when Blockbuster announced it was going into bankruptcy protection. We all knew this would happen–the end of this corporation–but the realization that the video store would soon be extinct didn’t come until my local video store announced it was closing this month.
With services like video-on-demand, streaming and Redbox, the end of the video store is not surprising. While ease of use and affordability may be the benefits, the film community as well as actual communities may be losing a significant part of them.
Over the last decade people have prophesied the end of the movie theatre and the video store, while the death of the movie theatre may be far off, the video store is already six feet under.
It is a sad thought, no longer being able to walk or bike to a video store to rent a film, as it seems to be such a natural thing. It could be argued that it is just nostalgia talking, but I honestly believe the video store holds many benefits that the new alternatives do not.
Wandering down the aisles, finding films I had never heard of; seeing films that looked terrifying or cool and finally working up the courage to get them, these are all things impossible with the new technologies.
It is true that a larger selection can be found on streaming, yet it seems far less likely that people will want to explore the selection like they do in a video store. For the most part, other than film fans, people will not seek out these lesser-known titles, they will look for whatever name they recognize on the service they have decided to use. In a video store, with the DVD covers lining the walls, people will find things they may not have heard of and decide to rent it due to the box art or description on the back. It is exactly how I found many of my favourite films as a kid.
While the video store seemed to be a lost cause for quite some time, its demise never seemed imminent. With the financial down turn in North America and the rise in these alternative renting services, an almost perfect storm occurred. People began to seek more escapist entertainment for minimal amounts of money, and the introduction of services like Redbox and Netflix Watch Instantly fed this need. It accelerated the process and cemented the fate of the local video store.
Since I was a kid the local video store has always been the store I frequented the most. It helped me through a summer in a new neighbourhood without friends, and has been the reason for my discovery of some of my favourite films. My sadness for the disappearance of video stores is not simply fed by nostalgia and fear of what is new, but rather because the video store was a great tool for finding films. The new video rental services may have their benefits, but I truly mourn the death of the video store.