Who Killed Our Video Store?

January 30, 2010 at 10:22 pm / by

It’s not like I didn’t see it coming. It still hurts though. Our local video store (Video Haven, formerly Video Droid) is closing. I knew it was coming when the grocery store in the same plaza started offering videos from this vending machine for a buck a night. My son wanted to know why we couldn’t get a movie from said box. I told him, “If everybody rented movies from that box, we wouldn’t have a video store.” He loves our video store and I think he got it. Yeah, I know, Netflix is oh-so convenient. I don’t want always want convenience. I want community, a real one in addition to my digital peers. I liked bumping into my neighbors and comparing notes on the latest “family” film, or getting a review from that smart-aleck clerk.

I took my son in for one last visit for the clearance sale. It was a mistake. I would rather have remembered the well stocked shelves with over 25 years worth of films. This was no ordinary video store. Mill Valley is home to a film festival and people take their movies seriously. Watching all of one’s favorite video and music stores closing is like watching your favorite old aunts die off, one by one.

First it was records stores and now video stores; I’m curious to see how bookstores stay relevant and solvent. I was at Barnes & Knoble recently getting a sales pitch for the Nook. I was told how great it was that I could read newspapers without the ads. I told her I liked ads and besides, they pay for the paper. Ok, I have a vested interest in them since I create them, but how are papers going to make any money on this? “You have to pay a subscription fee,” said the sales person, irritation rising in her voice. I see. She didn’t like me. I wasn’t gushing about this fabulous new technology. You may ask, why wasn’t I at my local independent bookseller? Because, they don’t carry computer software manuals. I think the bitter moral of this story is in there somewhere.

So, am I finally going to get Netflix? You know, there’s one more video store in town. I think I’ll take my family there next Friday night and see what they’ve got.


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