A while back, I purchased a new wallet. Cleaning out my old one, I removed my no-longer-used laminated cards for video rental shops. I felt sad doing so, as I recalled our many trips to rent tapes and DVDs.
I looked online and learned that the first rental shop opened in 1977. The first time Beth and I used such a store was several years later, after we had left graduate work and worked at our first teaching jobs. The shop was in Flagstaff, AZ and was a cozy little place to the right of our Safeway grocery store and near our favorite local restaurant. I think they carried both VHS and Betamax tapes. I remember noticing the movie “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins” and I wondered (rightly, in this case) whether it was risky to anticipate so boldly that a movie would result in sequels.
By the time we moved to Kentucky our daughter was young, and our movie watching became more kid-centered. There was a Roadrunner Video store in the nearby grocery store plaza. We frequented the place, especially in summertime. I had made the decision to stay home with our daughter during her grade school summers. At least once, we visited Roadrunner barefoot. We got all kinds of shows and videos over the years. I remember one called “The Brave Frog,” which I thought was horrible. When I looked the movie up on imdb.com, I realized that my opinion was pretty much the critical concensus! Of course, we also got the Disney classics, some cartoon shows on video, and straight-to-video movies that were more enjoyable than the frog one.
A Hollywood Video place opened down the street, which we also used, but the Roadrunner eventually closed. I was sad to see it go, with all the associations I had of “field trips” with our daughter. My parents also figure into all this nostalgia. Before they became too infirm to travel, they visited us in Kentucky. I still worked on a church staff then. My parents loved Westerns, so I rented “Unforgiven” for them to watch while we were at church all morning. They had wanted to see the movie and loved it, but Mom thought the language was awfully strong. True, you probably never heard John Wayne (their favorite Western star) use words like “shit hole,” etc.
Blockbuster stores predominated in the 00s, but now they’ve all closed as of January 2014. The three of us were happy to discover a little place called Family Video near our house. It operates in conjunction with a pizza store, which is a smart combination. We rented the Blu-Ray for “Silver Linings Playbook” not too long ago. There is still something very enjoyable about going to the rental place, which you don’t get from the (admittedly convenient) services Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
I found a short feature on YouTube that expresses the pleasures of renting movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26eQ3QpNB6Q