There’s still a video rental store in the town where I live. Well, by the time you get to the end of this there probably won’t be.
For decades, video stores gave Americans the ability to pick up a copy of “Animal House” at our whim when it wasn’t readily available on TV (without heavy editing), or a computer, which at that time consisted of machines we only saw in the science fiction movies we rented from those same video stores.
You wanted to watch “The Princess Bride,” “Die Hard,” or “Star Wars” just whenever? Video store. Didn’t have cable TV? Video store. Wanted to see a movie nobody (seriously, nobody) has ever heard of? Video store.
Before the days of YouTube, Hulu, movie pirates, and quite possibly robots from the future, American at-home entertainment revolved around movies on videocassette, many of which were fed into to players rented from the same stores.
Video stores rolled through threats to their existence by adopting DVDs and video games, scoffing at the thought that consumers would never need them. Then came Netflix and Redbox, and video stores fell into the movie rental abyss.
Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video, and finally Blockbuster sank faster than the RMS Lusitania (106 years isn’t too soon to make a sunken ocean liner joke, is it?).
My town’s movie store, the home-owned Movie Magic, has been around 29 years. Let me talk as if it is still around, which it is, though bank foreclosure is imminent. Movie Magic offers more than movies and video games, it is THE source of gaming material and comic books in town. It also smells of incense. When I brought home the last movie I rented from there, my kindergartener grabbed the case and sniffed it.
“Smells like Movie Magic,” she said.
Yeah, it did.
For those of you fellow locals reading this, I’ll write as if the store has closed, and now that we’re three paragraphs later, it probably has. I know you’re working through the Kübler-Ross model for the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
According to online posts, you are.
1) Denial. Sean: “I’m in complete disbelief. You’re the store that introduced me to ‘Doctor Who.’”
2) Anger. Sheryl: “I sincerely hope this was not a local bank ending a much needed and loved business.”
3) Bargaining. Wayne: I’d like to think that if the bank in question knew how detrimental Movie Magic’s absence is going to be to the entire community, those few people who made the foreclosure decision might rethink it.”
4) Depression. Jeff: “Oh wow, what a bummer. Now I have nowhere else to go.”
Page 2 of 2 - 5) Acceptance. Jenni: “When one door closes, may another open.”
I’m not lamenting the death of video rental stores in general. I’m lamenting the death of my video rental store. If it weren’t for Movie Magic, I’d have never seen gems like “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” and “Gamers.” Now I’ll have to rely on a vending machine for movies, and vending machines don’t smile.
The world has been getting impersonal for a very long time, it’s just sad when it happens so close to home.
Follow Jason Offutt on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.