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Video store memories?

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Video store memories?

Old 08-06-14, 07:49 PM
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Video store memories?

We are all movie fans so we must have some fun memories of spending time in the video store. I remember a couple places that stick out in my mind.

I don't remember the name but it was a Mom and Pop store in my hometown. But they had an amazing horror section. It was in a dark corner of the store There it had the word horror in blood red lettering, blow up bats, spiders and cobwebs. It was an amazing place to visit even though I was only about five at the time and couldn't watch those movies at all.

My other memory was of a place called Video Spectrum in Bowling Green Ohio. This was 2002 when DVD had already taken hold of the market and walking in there was like taking a step back in time. You walked in and there were tons of rare out of print VHS tapes you could rent and I did almost every weekend. Unfortunately it closed down a couple years ago after they sold their inventory. Unfortunately I found out a year too late otherwise I would have made the trip to buy something.
Old 08-07-14, 03:18 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I used to work for the largest independent video store in Vancouver until they went out of business.

The first memory that springs to mind is the couple times I had to kick out homeless people for trying to sleep in the store. And when they wouldn't leave, physically dragging them out.

When I was about 14 me and a buddy quietly snuck into the porn section of a local video store when no one was around in the small suburb I grew up in. Once we were in there we looked and laughed at funny titled porn movies for about 15 minutes, when we wanted to leave the store became busy and we were so embarrassed at the prospect of being seen exiting the porn section that we ended up holing up in there for another 45 minutes until the store emptied and we could exit the saloon style doors unnoticed.

My favourite memories of video stores as a child aren't all that interesting unless you are me, but I used to MARVEL at the wonder of looking at the covers of wrestling videos. I could have probably sat in the stores for hours looking at and analyzing the matches and all the different wrestlers. Or going shopping with my parents to a mall I'd never been to in a different town and wandering into a videostore and seeing wrestling videos that I'd NEVER seen before and getting so bummed out that I couldn't rent them. And since PPV didn't really exist when I was a kid, I'd have to wait months after Wrestlemania or the Royal Rumble happened before I could actually see it. I used to count down the days until a new video was released like it was fucking Christmas. The funny thing is all these stories about wrestling videos ar easily transferable with magazines, toys, games etc.

The last memory that springs to mind is the summer going into the 6th grade, my best friend had his birthday party at a local minor league baseball game and after the game we all got Subway and ended up wandering into the Blockbuster next door pretty late. Up until that point in my life I wasn't allowed watching any R rated movies and most PG-13 movies. But my friend was and his Dad was willing to rent us anything. The 3 of us decided on renting a horror movie and while we were perusing the section we asked the clerk walking by what a good horror movie was. His immediate response was "Halloween...Halloween is the best horror movie I've ever seen". So we rented it, and went to my friends place where we were sleeping over and watched it, in the dark, in silence after midnight. To this day some 20 years later, the number of transcendent, moving film experiences I've had can probably be counted on one and a half hands. It remains one of my top ten favourite films of alltime to this day. (along with the sequel, which despite a million people telling me it isn't as good I still manage to love just as much.)
Old 08-07-14, 03:24 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I've tons, but I'll go with a personal favorite: Tower Video in Point Loma.

I'm not sure if it was company mandate, but the employees would do custom displays for high profile releases on VHS and laser disc through much of the 1990s. They would actually build special displays that you could see no where else, and never again once they were taken down.

They also had one of the largest selections of laser discs I'd seen in San Diego. I never had a player, but I loved looking over those incredible discs just dreaming about awesome picture and sound...

I also rented a metric ton of movies from them, and DVDs when those hit. It closed down in 2000/01 or so, but for a few years, awesome.
Old 08-07-14, 03:38 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

This is how it all began:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dFtyMNTD2f4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/j_2zcW4yq30" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Mk7TMhTVhaY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Blockbuster totally dumbed-down the market. It was all downhill from there.
Old 08-07-14, 05:07 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Speaking as a former employee of a video chain - most every one was filled with pretentious film school drop out douche bags who thought anything the average person enjoyed was below them.

I guess they all migrated to the internet message boards.
Old 08-07-14, 08:02 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I remember the Mom and Pop video store near my grandfather's house. His was the first VCR that I watched, one that had the top loader. Movies on tape were so new that the selection was kind of horrible, but me and my siblings (even my mother) didn't care, we'd rent whatever and spend hours glued to the television. Stuff like The Emerald Forest stands out, but also saw Karate Kid II, Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful for the first time instead of at the theaters because we rarely went to the movies. Fun times!

Years later I worked at Blockbuster as a second job. Met the father of my daughter there, the daugther was a good thing, her stupid father quite the opposite. When I first started working there I wasn't familiar with the direct-to-video market so when someone asked if we had Children of the Corn VI (or whatever was out back then) and telling them in confidence, "Oh, there's no such thing, there are only two Children of the Corn movies."
Old 08-07-14, 09:03 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

All found memories of video stores involve the room in the back.
Old 08-07-14, 09:18 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

When I was in University, there used to be a little place near campus called GenerationX that catered to the University crowd. They carried mainstream movies along with your foreign and genres movies that it was hard to find at that time. This was during the mid-90s. However, they eventually closed their business with the increased online exposure but it was fun time as I was exposed to the different genres of movies and the people there were more than helpful to give out recommendation when asked.
Old 08-07-14, 09:49 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Great thread. And those commercials Alan Smithee found are a perfect time capsule of that era. Interestingly, the first two commercials emphasize classics available for rental while the third only cites then-recent hits. Hard to believe there was once a time when it was commercially viable to open your video store ad with THE COMPETITION with Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving.

And I used to have a top-loading machine like that.
Old 08-07-14, 09:49 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

My parents co-owned a local chain of video stores with a few other people. They had about 5 locations I think, and it was called Video Vibrations (awwww yeah...). They sold their stake in it a few years before Blockbuster came in and decimated most of the local shops. I was super young back then, so all I remember are the brown clamshell cases they used with the VV local on them.

After that, I remember frequently going to Rogers Video and later Jumbo Video all the time. As a family, we'd rent 2 or 3 movies. Rogers had a curtained section, but not for adult video... it was for horror flicks. I remember sneaking in there and grabbing Howard The Duck and my mom let me rent it.

A newer place opened up closer to us, and I started going there on my own when I was 11 or 12 (maybe younger). I'd rent 7 movies for 7 days for $7. It was awesome. I always tried to find titles that looked like there might be boobs in the movie. I think I rented FWWM around this time, but only watched the first 10 minutes or so (I had not seen Twin Peaks at all yet, and only knew of it as "that weird show" that my parents wouldn't watch). I spend countless hours perusing this place in my teenage years. I remember renting The People Vs. Larry Flint, and the clerk, who was an older woman, said, "I'm not supposed to let you rent this, because it's rated R, but it's a REALLY good film, and I think you'd actually appreciate it." (or something like that). That was awesome, but I actually didn't like the movie that much.

Around 18, I started working at a place called VHQ. I can't remember if it was only in my province, or nation-wide, but it was a direct competitor to Rogers and Blockbuster. I had a MAJOR crush on a girl that worked there, but she wasn't interested in my awesomeness. I had a lot of fun there (free DVD/VHS rentals and discounts on purchases), and it's where I bought my first Criterion (Silence of the Lambs), but management was terrible so I quit. This place had the 7/7/7 thing going too, and I think we charged a bit extra for the adult tapes in the back. I remember one dude who was renting 7 at a time, but always brought them back after a day or two and rented 7 more. Pretty sure he was making copies. I remember another guy coming in on a Monday night at 11:45 asking if he could buy Gladiator, which came out the next day. My boss said I wasn't allowed to sell it to him. He asked if he could wait until 12:01 (we closed at 12), but my boss wouldn't allow it. She was terrible.

I'm sure there are many more memories hiding in my brain, but that's the stuff I remember the most.

It was the blurst of times.
Old 08-07-14, 09:53 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Jumbo videos That brings out memories. I may still have their membership cards laying around somewhere.
Old 08-07-14, 10:02 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I can picture the membership card in my head, but mine is LONG gone.

My school was close to that place, so we'd go there at lunch and/or after school, eat popcorn, and laugh at the overpriced laserdiscs.
Old 08-07-14, 10:12 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Yeah, I grew up with a lot of mom and pop video stores in my hood. My local one was called "Pepe's Video" and they used to charge $1.50 per video per night. Late fees were a $1.50 a day. They also had a porn selection but no little room in the back just a couple of binders with the porn box covert art. If you wanted a porn flick you would just tell the guy, "let me get #214 and #136." That little fucking shop was gangbusters in the hood and pretty much took over the spot for almost 20 years. I don't think they're there anymore as they turned themselves into a calling card/cellular phone type of shop. They did get into DVDs for a bit but I was gone by then. I stopped being a customer way back in late 1996 when I discovered laserdiscs, which brings me to…

my local laserdisc shop that had porn LD's in the back room alongside the used LD section. Lots of great stuff was available at pretty low prices. They did get into DVD but eventually closed down when they did not renew the lease to the building they were in.


Good times.
Old 08-07-14, 10:37 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Where I'm from there were a few chains. The main one was Video Factory, but they were bought out by Blockbuster in the early 90s. The other was called Movies Plus, which I was in one time , but they eventually went under in the early 2000s if I recall. I remember when Hollywood Video came in to town, which I believe is what ended up causing Movies Plus to close (since they seemed to open locations within close proximity and were cheaper).

We always rented movies from the video department of Wegmans grocery stores when I was growing up. That's how I got a lot of movie posters and most of my used tapes and video games.

As a kid, walking down the aisles of the video stores is how I determined what I wanted to rent. That's how I started my interest in schlock-y horror, especially B-list stuff form the 80s. There's something about old VHS box art that is so different from everything else.
Old 08-07-14, 10:41 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I worked for Blockbuster Video right when DVD was becoming popular. I don't have anything pleasant to say about the customers but the job was a lot of fun.
Old 08-07-14, 10:50 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I still remember the Pre-Blockbusters days in my neighborhood (Blockbuster opened in 1989), where we had a few mom and pop video stores. You wouldn't even bother with trying to rent the popular movie that was just released, because each store had maybe 2-3 copies and would never have them in stock. I remember being amazed when Blockbuster opened up and they would have 50 copies of every hot new movie to rent.
Old 08-07-14, 11:01 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Speaking of Blockbuster, I remember when the Director's Cut of Natural Born Killers came out. I went to Rogers (or Jumbo... can't remember) to buy it, and they wanted $150 or something crazy, because they had it flagged as a "rental copy VHS" which were more expensive. I was bummed. Later that day, I called Blockbuster to see if they had it, and they did, and only wanted $20 for it. I got my mom to drive me there (I was 14? 15?) and she waited in the van as I bought it. The clerk said I wasn't old enough to buy it, and I said my mom gave me permission. "Look! She's even in the van right there." The clerk looked, my mom waved (she had NO idea what I was buying at all. She'd have KILLED me had she known what movie it was!), and the clerk did the transaction.
Old 08-07-14, 11:03 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

Lots of memories, but these days one of the things that sticks out is the custom boxes and packaging for the candy, popcorn. At Hollywood Video it was themed for movies, and you don't see that anymore. I think Blockbuster had that too.

There is still an independent store that I went to a lot in college that's a few hours away, next time I'm in that town, I'll have to browse around. They've got shit organized by directors, country, genre, I love it.
Old 08-07-14, 11:42 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I also had a blockbuster membership. I had to go with my mom to get it and walking in there was like walking into a whole different world. It was glitzy and glamourous and I always wondered where they kept the porn hidden at. They also had a nice Japanimation section but the prices for their retail films was way too expensive. I used rent VHS's and video games from them.
Old 08-07-14, 11:55 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

I have tons of memories, especially as I worked and then managed a video store.

But my first memory is of my Dad buying a VCR and taking us to a Video Shack and buying the families first 3 VHS tapes...Annie Hall, Bananas & The Pink Panther Strikes Again which were put out by Magnetic Video. I think they were around $80 each:

Old 08-07-14, 11:58 AM
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Re: Video store memories?

During the video boom, my mom and I use to rent from the Wherehouse every weekend. My uncle had 2 VCRs and would rent movies every night to make copies of them. He also built his own ON TV box to get free Pay television. That was when I realized how easy it was to abuse technology.

I remember one rental place in Azusa California that had a drive-thru window. You can zip up and get your rentals without leaving your car. They had a pretty good selection of early 80s videos and was the only place I could find the Warners Bros video release of Hardware Wars. They had a decent porn section too.

During the early 90s, I use to rent from Eddie Brant's Saturday Matinee Video that had every video imaginable. Looks like they're still around in North Hollywood.

Last edited by The Valeyard; 08-07-14 at 12:06 PM.
Old 08-07-14, 12:07 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

As a former employee from one of the major chains in So Cal during the 80s, there were a lot of moments but the ones that stood out..

1) my hazing.. one of the assistant managers called in on one of the lines and they made me answer. He asked about a gay porn movie, had me make sure we had it in stock and I finally caught on when he asked me to describe the box.

2) caught a frequent customer jerking off in our tiny porn section. never would have figured.

3) when people would come in and return videos only to check them back out again, because they saved a penny per day.

I was always surprised at how many people would put a cash deposit down to rent a movie. At that time it was a $80 deposit...
Old 08-07-14, 12:07 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

Originally Posted by Jaymole View Post
I have tons of memories, especially as I worked and then managed a video store.

But my first memory is of my Dad buying a VCR and taking us to a Video Shack and buying the families first 3 VHS tapes...Annie Hall, Bananas & The Pink Panther Strikes Again which were put out by Magnetic Video. I think they were around $80 each:

Your dad bought Beta tapes for a VHS VCR?
Old 08-07-14, 12:11 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

My favorite rental place was called Video Corner. Huge selection. You could easily browse for hours and you would always discover something new or interesting. If you came in on a cold winter day they would offer you a cup of coffee. If you checked out videos around Halloween they would put some candy in your bag of rentals.
This was also one of the first video stores in our area to offer movie reservations. We usually did the Saturday - Monday Weekend Special: rent six movies, pay only for five. It was fun checking movies out but always a bitch returning them.

Edit to add a few more memories:

~ VCR ripped tape after rewinding Delirious (1991). I had to unscrew the cassette so I could patch up the torn tape with scotch tape. While doing so I had to break one of the cassette's MGM security seal/stickers. Rental store never noticed.

~ Rental store broke street date and put out copies of Batman (1989) the weekend before official release. I was the happiest person of the world that weekend.

~ Won copies of Demoniac (1975) and Murphy's Romance (1985) during a video store raffle.

~ Bought original VHS of Scream (1981) still sealed for $5 when a video store was closing.

Last edited by hbilly; 10-12-16 at 01:31 AM.
Old 08-07-14, 12:31 PM
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Re: Video store memories?

I too was a video store employee. I still remember being 10 years old and walking in Epic Video (formally Video Den) for the first time, I told the owner that I wanted to work there. He told me that I had to wait till I was 16, the countdown began. I would go there all the time, I was a young movie addict and they had my fix. Luckily the place was within bike riding distance, so every Tuesday after school I would bike up there and get the new releases. In April of 1999, I showed up to find the boss working behind the counter due to losing both of his employees to unforeseen circumstances on the same day, I was hired on the spot. Now I had free access to the entire store, and the secret rack in the back of screeners.

This wasn't a Blockbuster, a soulless commercial movie factory designed to push you out the door with less money, movie geeks would come and just hang out. There were regulars who showed up nearly every day and just talked film for an hour or more. I really miss having a place like that, it doesn't exist anymore.

We also had a adult video section, which was pretty awkward for a 15 year old to deal with (heck, it was weird when I was 20). We didn't hide them in a back room, they were right out in the open in bright yellow boxes with no covers. We had one customer who was a really nice 60 year old man who would come in with his wife, they'd walk around the store and pick out a few new releases, then he'd stop by the adult section and pick up a couple flicks for himself. Sometimes the tapes would come back filthy, nearly vomited on a few occasions. Another customer was a rookie for the Redskins, his job was to rent porn for the team plane. He would come in and rent 10-15 adult flicks at a time and not return them for over a month. I would have to call him up and remind him that the late fees were adding up. He would bring them back, pay $150 in late charges, then rent another batch of titles and do it all over again. I kept a couple of those receipts for years, especially because we required customers to sign the receipt for all rentals. He ended up having a long career here as a special teams player, I could never look at him without thinking about all the porn he rented.

We had 3 TV's in the store and we were allowed to play anything we wanted as long as it wasn't R or a hard PG-13. Because of this, I estimate I have seen Major League 2 well over 400 times. We would watch it on repeat. It was pretty much our little inside joke, we knew every word and would constantly recite lines in unison as the scenes played out. One summer the owner went out of town for a week, I made it a rule that the only movie we could play was Top Gun. I think I watched it 42 times that week.

I took a hiatus the final five months of my senior year in high school so I could go out and do things on weekends. Came back right before 9/11, for the next year business just died. Blockbuster was right up the street and we did a good job competing with them, but they started playing all sorts of nasty tricks ("no late fees"). Netflix was also starting to gain some traction, the business was changing. The writing was on the wall, my dream of buying the store didn't look like a good decision anymore. I ended up quitting in the fall of 2002 for stupid reasons, the store lasted another year before closing. They ended up closing at a good time, the owner was still able to make a few dollars before the market completely dropped due to Redbox.

Other random memories
- we started off with 3 copies of Office Space. The movies sat on the shelf for a few weeks, a rental here and there. Word of mouth started to spread, we had a wait list for a few weeks but it kept getting longer. The owner decided to buy 5 more copies to meet the demand but it didn't help. I think we ended up with 14 copies, and every single one was checked out on a consistent basis for over a year. (same thing happened with Austin Powers after part 2 came out, we ended up adding another dozen copies after selling off most of the stock in the previously viewed bin)

- After 9/11, a lot of middle eastern people came in and rented The Siege and The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (Nostradamus documentary). Yes some white people rented them as well, but 95% were middle eastern.

- My best friends step brother tried to steal a vhs copy of Sliver. It was awkward when my friends step father had to come in and ask the owner to not press charges.

- We would play games where we picked out a horrible new release and try to get somebody to rent it.

- Certain movies would make people stop and watch them in the store. I've seen numerous people cry because Rudy was playing. Also The Sandlot, everybody in the store would stop to watch the pool/lifeguard scene.

- If you were in your 20's and you came into the store within 30 minutes of closing time, I probably tried to get you to buy me beer from the 7/11 next door in exchange for free rentals.

- I forgot to lock the door one night, somebody came in and knocked every single movie off the shelves. Nothing stolen.

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