Tuesday, February 26, 2013

be kind ~ rewind to the 80's

I pulled into Blockbuster a few nights ago.  I saw the sale signs for cheap DVDs.  While thumbing through a rack, I asked if he knew if this was the last video rental place in Etowah County..  The guy behind the counter replied, "I think so...people got lazy."  Another customer asked a question that I didn't hear and I heard the same clerk reply, "We got a call from headquarters and were told that we were closing.  We were told that we didn't make a profit last year."

I thought the comment about people getting lazy was kind of humorous.  The reason Blockbuster took the scene was because they were a mega franchise that boasted having movies always in stock.  No longer did people have to drive from Mom and Pop store to Mom and Pop store hoping to get a copy of the newly released Beverly Hills Cop or Highlander.  Remember when there were video rental stores on every corner.  You could almost go anywhere and rent a movie.  Blockbuster came along and drove them all out of business because people "got lazy' and found all the newest movie titles at one location.

I don't remember the last time I had been in our Blockbuster.  I suppose I got lazy.  I can get the newly released videos cheaper through Red Box.  Now there's video rental almost on every corner again thanks to Red Box.  I also have Netflix.  I get movies streaming to my television and through my computer.  Actually, the customer didn't get lazy, someone came up with an idea to get entertainment cheaper and direct.  Once Blockbuster was the big idea, and now they are not.

Blockbuster used to have stores all over the place, but went bankrupt back in 2010.  Dish Network came into the picture and bought them out.  They dropped 500 stores in 2012 and now 300 hundred more, including ours.  It's hard for any business these days to stay in business.  Dish Network still feels as if they do something with the BlockBuster franchise.  They started doing Red Box like kiosks as well as a Netflix like service.  They are retooling, but are they late in the game?

Back in the 1980's, before Blockbuster came to town, were the Mom and Pop places.  They rented VHS and BETA. There was a war between VHS and BETA like there was Coke and Pepsi.  VHS won.  You could not only rent a movie, but you could also rent a player for the night from these stores.  In the late eighties I bought a laser disc player.  Bear Video on Broad Street rented those.  Laser Disc came and went quickly.  VHS won out.

The place I rented from the most was Varney's Video on the mountain, not far from Nocalula Falls.  I'd order a pizza from Uncle Sam's Pizza and run by Varney's for a tape or two.  After VHS had been around for a while, the prices started going down and I started buying titles that I liked.  Those movies are now in boxes in the garage that I don't know what to do with.  I've given a lot away over the years.

When Gina and I got married, we moved to Bowling Green, KY.  We were scraping by and didn't hook up to cable for the first few years there.  By that time, I could find places that rented VHS for a buck each.  There was a gas station about a block away that kept me entertained.  The public library also had VHS tapes that I could rent.  VHS lasted throughout the nineties.  VHS rentals were all over the place.

The last place I rented a video was at Southside Rental.  It's was a Mom and Pop that is no more.  They didn't last long after Blockbusters and Movie Gallery's sprung up all around Etowah County.  The little guy couldn't compete with the bigger guy.  Now the bigger guy is put out of business by the new big guy.  Life goes on.

It's kind of weird seeing the last video store in town go out of business.  I remember when they were everywhere and VHS was king.  It went from tape to digital disc to videos streaming.  Most people these days have a home theater system with a large flat screen with surround sound.  The movie theater is now in the home and new releases are streaming in.  
What next?

VHS Rewinder

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