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Video store memories?

Old 08-31-14, 11:33 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I have a couple memories that stand out. One is being really young and my parents giving the babysitter enough money to rent a VHS machine and movies. The carrying case for the machine was HUGE and I can't even remember what was rented.

Also, there was a time I was in a dead end job doing shift work and I'd just spend all my free time watching movies. There was store near me that had a 5 for $5 deal and I'd roam the aisles looking for anything I might not have seen.

It's sad we don't have this anymore. The ability to have the movie I want at my fingertips doesn't enhance the experience. And those pictures of the dead movie store were sad.
Old 01-20-15, 03:51 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

I primarily frequented video stores after I got my first DVD player in 2003. And, I don't miss them (for the most part):

I primarily went to Blockbuster, since they were one of the only stores around. The one I went to rented a lot of DVDs that were scratched, and would thus freeze/stop at certain places. When I would return the DVD & complain about this, they would look skeptical. I would offer to have them play the DVD & show them where the scratch/scratches were, and they would always say that the DVD players in the store were only to be used for advertising/playing the new movies. You would think they would want to know if a DVD was scratched so they could take it out of circulation, but they didn't care. I'm sure they just put these scratched DVDs back into circulation. This was obviously store policy, and horrible customer service.

Their late fees were a rip-off, and were just a way to scam the consumer out of more $.

The selection was always skewed towards 100 DVDs of a new film, and very few older releases. Their foreign/independent/obscure releases were almost nonexistent.

And, it's ironic that these days you can buy new DVDs (and in some cases even new Blu-rays) for the cost of what a Blockbuster rental used to cost back in the day....

I did like Hollywood Video. There was only one around me, and they typically had a better DVD selection of older films & good deals. Plus, their DVDs were almost always in better shape than Blockbuster's. Sadly, they couldn't compete & closed their stores long before Blockbuster's went under...

But, as I said, I don't miss the hassle of having to rent movies. Streaming is a lot better...
Old 01-20-15, 04:01 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
I primarily frequented video stores after I got my first DVD player in 2003. And, I don't miss them (for the most part):

I primarily went to Blockbuster, since they were one of the only stores around. The one I went to rented a lot of DVDs that were scratched, and would thus freeze/stop at certain places. When I would return the DVD & complain about this, they would look skeptical. I would offer to have them play the DVD & show them where the scratch/scratches were, and they would always say that the DVD players in the store were only to be used for advertising/playing the new movies. You would think they would want to know if a DVD was scratched so they could take it out of circulation, but they didn't care. I'm sure they just put these scratched DVDs back into circulation. This was obviously store policy, and horrible customer service.

Their late fees were a rip-off, and were just a way to scam the consumer out of more $.

The selection was always skewed towards 100 DVDs of a new film, and very few older releases. Their foreign/independent/obscure releases were almost nonexistent.

And, it's ironic that these days you can buy new DVDs (and in some cases even new Blu-rays) for the cost of what a Blockbuster rental used to cost back in the day....

I did like Hollywood Video. There was only one around me, and they typically had a better DVD selection of older films & good deals. Plus, their DVDs were almost always in better shape than Blockbuster's. Sadly, they couldn't compete & closed their stores long before Blockbuster's went under...

But, as I said, I don't miss the hassle of having to rent movies. Streaming is a lot better...
I had a Blockbuster near me that I would rent anime tapes from (pre-DVD). Then one day I walked in and found that they'd interfiled all the anime tapes with their regular movie collection, so there was no anime section. You had to know what you wanted and where it was filed, rather than be able to browse the anime tapes. I complained to a store worker who completely agreed with me, but his protests to the manager had been overruled. I never rented from them again.
Old 01-20-15, 07:51 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Not surprised at this at all. The thing is, even if Blockbuster had better customer service they would still have gone under anyway, just like most other video stores did - I guess they got a lot of competition from Netflix, and of course these days there's streaming - so you don't have to be dependent on physical media as much. I don't know of any stand-alone video rental stores anymore - the only way you can rent physical DVD's/Blu's (that I'm aware of) is Redbox & then through the mail (Netflix).
Old 01-20-15, 08:22 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
Not surprised at this at all. The thing is, even if Blockbuster had better customer service they would still have gone under anyway, just like most other video stores did - I guess they got a lot of competition from Netflix, and of course these days there's streaming - so you don't have to be dependent on physical media as much. I don't know of any stand-alone video rental stores anymore - the only way you can rent physical DVD's/Blu's (that I'm aware of) is Redbox & then through the mail (Netflix).
Family Video.
Old 01-20-15, 10:08 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
I had a Blockbuster near me that I would rent anime tapes from (pre-DVD). Then one day I walked in and found that they'd interfiled all the anime tapes with their regular movie collection, so there was no anime section. You had to know what you wanted and where it was filed, rather than be able to browse the anime tapes. I complained to a store worker who completely agreed with me, but his protests to the manager had been overruled. I never rented from them again.
I never went to a Blockbuster after 1997. I had a late of $5 for one video and for whatever reason, I didn't go back to rent there for a few months. They sent me to a collection agency over $5, which I would have paid during my next visit.

Needless to say, I hope they enjoyed that $5, because it was the last time they ever received money from me.
Old 01-21-15, 08:36 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

The best job I ever had was managing a video store in Soho. We had a massive collection, but specialized in hard to find videos so I use to love scouring the country for rare & OOP DVDs to buy. I also loved the clientele, not only for the famous actors, musicians and artists, but for just the regular customers who were great to talk to and usually very knowledgeable about films.

We charged $50 a year membership, which never got any complaints due to our selection.
Old 01-21-15, 09:27 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
I primarily frequented video stores after I got my first DVD player in 2003. And, I don't miss them (for the most part):
You don't miss them because you missed the party. Before Blockbuster drove everyone else out of the market and proceeded to treat every customer like shit there were a lot of really great independent video stores.
Old 01-21-15, 05:18 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

The market was also very different before DVD, when it was primarily VHS, also with Beta at the better stores and Laserdisc only at select few. And most of the tapes retailed around $80 so you couldn't buy them at your local Wal-Mart.
Old 01-21-15, 08:57 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Jaymole View Post
The best job I ever had was managing a video store in Soho. We had a massive collection, but specialized in hard to find videos so I use to love scouring the country for rare & OOP DVDs to buy. I also loved the clientele, not only for the famous actors, musicians and artists, but for just the regular customers who were great to talk to and usually very knowledgeable about films.

We charged $50 a year membership, which never got any complaints due to our selection.
Kim's?

The first video store I ever saw was the one that opened in the small plaza close to my school in the fall of 1980. It was a small sliver of a storefront that just months before had been partitioned out of a larger 'notations' store. You walked in, and right up to a counter, where from a distance you could see a smattering of titles lined up on the shelves, not more than three or four dozen, with plenty of space between them. Since this was such an unknown concept prior to this, I was more impressed with what little was available than how much wasn't.
Even though I wouldn't even own a player for another 5 years, I used to stop in there almost every day on my way home from Jr. High and just look at the cases (from a distance) and imagine how amazing the world was becoming that sometime in the near future, I would be able to go into this store and rent Jaws anytime I wanted. Pretty sure that store lasted about 3-4 years. I know it was gone by '85.
In the late 80's a local chain, that had great buyers and always well stocked (lots of odd, outre, and excellent low profile titles), opened up an anchor store in the same plaza and an old girlfriend went to work there. We'd dropped out of touch, but started hanging out again after I went in there to rent something. That next summer she'd work the late shift, and take something home each night. I'd bike over to her house and hang out late watching movies in her AC'd bedroom. Great summer.

A few years later, Blockbuster expanded and bought out all their location and liquidated their more interesting and unique inventory and homogenized everything to the parent chains lowest common denominator standards. That's when I stopped caring much about home video altogether until DVD came along and changed the paradigm up.

Blockbuster wasn't always the ass face of home video. I remember the first time I ever saw one in Atlanta when I was going there for art school. I was amazed at the selection of foreign films, silents, and the fact they had the Fleischer Superman cartoons- something that had a mythical status to me at the time. I was actually happy when they opened their first locations in my hometown a year or two later.
Old 01-21-15, 09:54 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

I worked for several years at the Hollywood Video mothership in Oregon. Some of those years were before the company went public and they began opening stores like crazy. The first handful of stores in Oregon all featured original airbrushed artwork of movie icons (John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, etc) custom painted for each store. I remember the artist had his own studio at HQ next to the warehouse of VHS tapes being prepped for the shelves.

While I was there HQ moved five different times to keep up with the growth, one building was a former Nike HQ that still had the ghost of the swoosh over the reception desk where the logo had been. Somewhere along the way I met my future wife who worked there for about 1 year - that is my best take away.
Old 01-22-15, 07:58 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Paul_SD View Post
Kim's?
Nope...it was called Rare Bird Video. We opened before Kim's. Kim took our store idea and hired some of our employees and opened his own...it was an exact copy of what we were doing. It was weird going into his first store as even the hand drawn category signs were like ours.
Old 01-22-15, 09:50 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by stvn1974 View Post
I remember going to the mom and pop video stores and music stores and chatting with the owners about films and music. Now you go into store that actually sells movies or music and the college age clerk has no idea what a Pink Floyd is and has never heard of Dark Side Of The Moon.
This made me think of an experience in Best Buy a couple of years ago. I went looking for the new Peter Gabriel album and couldn't find it so I asked one of the kids working there. He looks at me inquisitively and says "Peter Gabriel… is that 'rock'"? I really do miss having dedicated stores.
Old 01-22-15, 10:34 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I have fond memories of Video Stores back in the day. There were 3 in particular that stand out. One was called "Titles" and it was huge. One week during the summer when i was around 18 years old they went crazy and had a promotion where you can rent any movie free of charge. Each customer was allowed a maximum of 7 movies at any one time. My best friend and i spent the entire week just watching one movie after another.

The second was a store called Project. The thing i remember most about this store was at around 13 a group of my friends and i went in and rented Mad Max2: The Road Warrior. I still remember the box having the X-rated label on the front.

The final store was called Village Video and i think this still ranks as the greatest video store i have ever seen. It was not massive, but it didn't need to be. Instead of having video boxes out on shelve (which it still did have a few thousand on display) it preferred to leave huge binders with video covers of the movies in. It must have had around 30 to 40 of these binders and each one was filled to capacity with literally hundreds of movie covers. It had every type of movie from world cinema to anime, to documentaries....you name it....they had it. It was incredible and i used to test the store by trying to get really obscure movies and see if they had it. I cannot recall a single time ever not finding a movie i was after.

In recent years the only video store i recall going into was one in Austin, TX that seemed very similar to Village Video, but with not quite as much selection.
Old 01-22-15, 11:22 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I remember the very first two movies my best friend and I rented from the local video store were The Road Warrior and Escape from New York.
Old 01-23-15, 07:24 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by robin2099 View Post
Family Video.
Evidence that video stores are still a viable concept ... Just not as a publicly traded company. I believe they are close to 800 stores and still growing.

Just over a year old, but here's a decent article: http://voices.suntimes.com/business-...y-video-rental
Old 01-23-15, 11:14 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
The market was also very different before DVD, when it was primarily VHS, also with Beta at the better stores and Laserdisc only at select few. And most of the tapes retailed around $80 so you couldn't buy them at your local Wal-Mart.
For whatever reason, I didn't rent VHS tapes in the '80's & '90's as much as I rented DVD's from the 200X's on - there was never much out there on VHS that I wanted to see....During those years, if I wanted to see a movie I'd go to the theater...

Conversely, after I got my DVD Player in 2003, a lot of TV shows were on DVD - so I was renting both TV series & films from Blockbuster & Hollywood Video...

Originally Posted by Paul_SD View Post
A few years later, Blockbuster expanded and bought out all their location and liquidated their more interesting and unique inventory and homogenized everything to the parent chains lowest common denominator standards. That's when I stopped caring much about home video altogether until DVD came along and changed the paradigm up.

Blockbuster wasn't always the ass face of home video. I remember the first time I ever saw one in Atlanta when I was going there for art school. I was amazed at the selection of foreign films, silents, and the fact they had the Fleischer Superman cartoons- something that had a mythical status to me at the time. I was actually happy when they opened their first locations in my hometown a year or two later.
By the time I started going to Blockbuster on a regular basis in 2003, they had already started becoming homogenized - they would typically have 30-40 copies of the latest new movie(s), some TV series, and very little of everything else. Older films were tough to find there, unless you got lucky. Also, foreign/indy films were, for the most part, nonexistent.

As I said in my earlier post, the biggest problem I had with renting DVD's were scratches - they were very common (at least in my case), and this led me to buy DVD's that I would otherwise have rented...As was said, things were a lot different in the days of VHS; you couldn't go and buy a VHS tape from Wal-mart or Target for $20 - it wasn't available there, and if you did buy it you were paying more like $70 - $80...conversely, in the 200X's films on DVD's were typically no more than $15-20 each (for new ones), and older ones were less...you could get a entire season of a TV series for typically $50-$70, which at the time was a bargain - IMHO...

I wonder when the heyday of Video rental stores were - the '80's? '90's? I'd also say that they were still somewhat popular until the mid 200X's....can't remember the year Blockbuster went out of business....

Last edited by TheDude; 01-25-15 at 01:10 AM.
Old 01-23-15, 11:52 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by TimeandTide View Post
Placer Video in Yuba City, Calif., used to put their over-flow VHS titles in no particular order, and vertically, so the box art wasn't visible, on top of low shelves throughout the store. During one visit, I spotted a tape called "The Killer", another entitled "Reservoir Dogs". That Woo/Tarantino double-bill (or quad-bill, as I watched them back-to-back-to-back-to back) sparked my love of cinema. Thereafter, I gobbled up any HK action film, copies of Film Threat, and anything QT was influenced by that I could find.
Funny you mention those titles.
When Empire film magazine started I got every issue and by issue 10 or so they started mentioning some odd titles. One was The Killer. I went down to our local Blockbuster and found it.
Saw it on a friday night as was amazed by it. Then it mentioned Clerks, I rented that.
After this period I started to view films differently. I noticed actors that had been in different films (perhaps at that point I thought actors only ever did one film each then didn't act ever again?!).
Old 01-25-15, 06:30 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

What I miss most about video stores was being able to find some OOP or rarer titles in the bargain bins. Some studios rarely put things on sale (New Yorker, etc.), and it was always a treat to find obscure foreign or cult favorite flicks for < $5.
Old 01-25-15, 07:40 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
I wonder when the heyday of Video rental stores were - the '80's? '90's? I'd also say that they were still somewhat popular until the mid 200X's....can't remember the year Blockbuster went out of business....
I chart the industry by what I saw go on with what what would become out areas biggest local chain. Most of these dates are a rough approximation.

1985
they occupied the lower floor of a corner storefront building. Over the next several years I saw them remodel to maximize floor and counter space, until they eventually had at least 4 dedicated terminals available for ringing up customers on a busy night along with several extra for processing returns- so about 6 registers total

1987
They began to expand, opening up smaller locations in surrounding towns, including a small, sliver of a storefront in my local plaza.
At this point they had about 6 locations.

They had also begun producing some nifty TV spots too
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/aozzHbaKVn8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I'm pretty sure the guy playing Matt Dreadlock was the creative brains behind all their commercials and scripted most if not all of them as he was a huge movie/geek culture nerd himself. For a local business these were highly accomplished and well produced spots. Early on he worked as a clerk in the store, which is where I first met him. One day, out of the blue I went in with an 8x10 of ET that had been autographed by Spielberg that I'd bought years before. I was in my late teens at this point and was always trying to rustle up money for weed since I rarely had a job. I was hoping I could convince the manager to buy it and display it- but Bob (Matt Dread) ended up buying it for himself. I got my bag of weed, and every time one of his commercials came on I couldn't help but smile and think of that incident.

1988
Their HQ store had moved across the street into an anchor storefront in a plaza that had at least 5 times the sq footage of their original location. The wall space dedicated to new releases (that is new plus newly released catalog etc) was at least 6 shelves high on a wall that ran about 60' deep. The store had two islands of registers (6 registers to an island) as well as a register by the entrance door that was "customer service" and mostly used to scan returns in. There was also one about 15x 20 anteroom that was dedicated to laser-discs for several years (sold full price).

1989
In my local plaza they remodeled, expanding their original sliver of a storefront into one that was four times the size- taking over what had been a store dedicated to baby and children's furniture. For the next 5-7 years this store would be the most heavily trafficked in a plaza that was entering a period of slow but steady decline (and now has a 60% occupancy at best).

1991
I think at this point they had about 35 locations

1996
They sold out to blockbuster
Old 01-25-15, 09:39 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

I worked at a video store for a couple years when I was in university in the late 90s. It was at Rogers Video, which was the Canadian version of Blockbuster Video (although we had those too). Overall, it was a lot of fun. I love movies, so being amongst all of them all the time was neat. All my co-workers were in the same age bracket so that was cool too. We got end caps to ourselves where we would stack our recommended titles and I had some regular customers who would come in just to see what I would put up. Collecting late charges and promoting whatever deal head office was pushing were the only really annoying things but it wasn't too bad.

I don't know how we got away with it, what with working in such a corporate and family environment, but we would regularly watch violent movies like Braveheart on the displays in the store.

The rise of DVD was really interesting. In late 1998, we only had maybe six or eight titles in a corner shelf. By 2000, it had become dominant and ultimately, the rise of DVD, and later Blu-ray, led to the death of Rogers, Blockbusters, and pretty much every video store.
Old 01-27-15, 11:58 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Defiant1 View Post
The rise of DVD was really interesting. In late 1998, we only had maybe six or eight titles in a corner shelf. By 2000, it had become dominant and ultimately, the rise of DVD, and later Blu-ray, led to the death of Rogers, Blockbusters, and pretty much every video store.
Yeah, I got my first DVD player in early 2003; at the time, I was a big movie fan (not like I am now, however), and also wanted to see The Sopranos & other TV shows on DVD; DVD was the only real home video format that lended itself to producing entire seasons of TV series relatively inexpensively & easily...this was far superior to watching TV shows in the days of VHS - you usually had to tape the shows to watch them...and, if there were official TV shows on VHS, there were possibly 1-2 episodes on a tape; I remember a civil war TV mini-series being sold on VHS tape for hundreds of dollars!
Old 01-27-15, 02:33 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Defiant1 View Post
By 2000, it had become dominant and ultimately, the rise of DVD, and later Blu-ray, led to the death of Rogers, Blockbusters, and pretty much every video store.
So DVD killed video rental stores including Blockbuster? I don't think so. Blockbuster killed video rental stores. Then Netflix killed Blockbuster.
Old 01-27-15, 04:01 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
I primarily frequented video stores after I got my first DVD player in 2003. And, I don't miss them (for the most part):
I usually just bought DVDs rather than renting them. At first I was scared that the scratched up DVDs were going to mess up my player. Later, I just wasn't that interested in it because at the time I had my DVD player it seemed like Fry's Electronics had a better selection of Horror, Foreign, and Dramas. Blockbuster usually had new movies but lacked in everything else.

I did frequent a mom & pop video rental for awhile, which is where I first saw The Believer, which was a good movie. In the last few years of video store renting it was the mom & pops that I frequented because they usually had a great selection of rare and obscure movies, either on DVD or VHS. One place in downtown specialized in these and had movies like Begotten, In The Company of Wolves, and The Brothers Quay collection.

1985-1988
Mom and Pops video rentals were the places to go. Browsing the shelves and assuming the film was going to be good just by the cover art was something we probably all did back then.

Wherehouse Video was the first chain I remember and it was much nicer than the mom & pops and I still remember the interior, grey and black motif with blue neon.

1989-1999
Blockbuster came into the picture and my family never went back to the mom & pops. Looking back renting at Blockbuster was never as much fun as it was the other stores. My local Blockbuster did have a decent cartoon collection which is where I first rented and saw The Guyver.

Hollywood Video arrived in the mid to late 90s. I always liked it better than Blockbuster for some reason.

2001-2007
Went back to mom & pops to rent DVDs since Blockbuster only had mainstream films. Got a chance to watch old films like The Wickerman, Nosferatu, Romper Stomper, and others. The selections of these stores were amazing.
Old 01-27-15, 06:02 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
So DVD killed video rental stores including Blockbuster? I don't think so. Blockbuster killed video rental stores. Then Netflix killed Blockbuster.
I definitely think DVD had a big part in the demise of video rental stores. In the VHS days, the vast majority of films did not go on sale to the public upon release. The studios charged up to $100 per VHS copy. The big stores got a discount on that. Titles didn't drop in price until well after their initial release so that's why everyone rented movies.

And then came DVD, where you could now own the movie outright for $20 or so. Why rent for $6 or whatever when you could just own the movie for just a little bit more. Also, DVD was a far superior format to VHS in every way, which led to people creating home theatres and video libraries in far greater numbers than before. This very website is a testament to that.

Piracy and online streaming are big factors too but I think the rise of DVD was the big one.

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