Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life Without Blockbuster

The stores slipped from the landscape almost unnoticed, until last week when the remaining 300 shuttered their doors and an era officially ended. With the closing of Blockbuster, the era of the movie rental store on every corner has concluded.

I remember driving to the local Blockbuster and wandering the aisles looking for a video to rent. Remember at first they were VHS tapes? And every store had the funky acrid video smell? I even remember the sign that reminded everyone to rewind their tapes before returning them. 

Patrick's first job was at the local Blockbuster--he wanted money to buy a computer and we told him to either share the family computer or get a job. In an exhibition of his entrepreneurial spirit, he talked the local blockbuster manager into hiring him.
Inside of a Blockbuster Store

The people at the local stores became almost like family. The managers knew our family and even when we moved, one of the assistant managers wound up managing our new local store and so it was like old times again. The stores upgraded from VHS tapes to DVDs and then to Blue Rays and they added an impressive array of games for every imaginable gaming system--but it was not enough. Our local store closed over five years ago and is not my our local liquor store. I had even forgotten that it used to be a Blockbuster until writing this article. 

As I think back to the local business landscape, I remember many of the other video and game  rental stores which no longer exist. There may be a few dinosaurs remaining, but I would not invest too deeply in their future. On demand rentals via satellite and cable and even the Red Box videos have effectively terminated a once thriving segment of the market. 

Good-bye Blockbuster, and thanks for the memories.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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