by ToastyKen

You’d never know based on my current TV watching practices, but I spent 6 years after returning from the Peace Corps without cable and rarely watching any TV.  I lived on movies, mostly rented from a video store.  As a result, I feel that I am somewhat of an expert when it comes to movie rental stores.

I was never a Blockbuster fan, even in their heyday.  They always seemed to have dozens of copies of new releases, but very little selection among their older movie shelves.  But during the majority of my TV-less existence, I was fortunate enough to live in Arcata, CA, home of one of the best video stores on the planet: Figueiredo’s.  They might only have 20 copies of the newest releases, but their shelves were jammed with all kinds of films, which meant that they had a larger selection than your average Blockbuster, but housed in about 1/4 of the space.  Older movies were available in the 3-for-3 deal, which meant three movies for three nights for $3.  Add a few more, and you could create your own 4-for-4 or 5-for-5 deal if you wanted.  They even started renting books on CD towards the end of my time in Arcata, and their selection was far better than the library’s.  They really were a hub of the community, and I fervently hope that they are still in business!

Once I left Arcata, I couldn’t find a video store that came even close to Figueiredo’s.  But pretty soon, along came Netflicks.  And then Redbox.  And we all knew that video stores were going to die off.

So when I was speaking with a fellow teacher, D, who said she still rented older movies for class from Blockbuster, I looked around and realized there was one a few miles away from me.  But when I walked in, I realized that my plan would never work.

The store was half-empty.  They still had dozens of new releases available around the outer walls, but the interior shelves of older movies were ravaged — three of the six shelves had movies turned face-out, fitting a total of 6 or so movies per shelf.  The remaining three shelves had face-out movies, alternating with stacks of movies laid on their sides, spines horizontal.  It was obvious that they were trying to make the little stock they had take up as much space as possible.  The movies that were on the shelves were either newer releases, or classic movies from the 80s — they just cherry-picked the most popular movies.  The rest of the store was bins of movies being sold 2 for $20, or 4 for $20, depending on age and quality.  It was obvious that, as soon as a movie shifted off the “New Releases” wall, most copies went into a sale bin.  So it’s no longer a movie rental chain; it’s now a movie store that rents the newest releases.

After a hour of searching, I couldn’t find the 90s-era movie I was looking to show in my Strategies class, and there were very few options for a computer-themed movie for my computer class.  Despite the fact that I now have a Blockbuster card again, I don’t know if I’ll be using it.  It would be much more convenient for me to just find the movies I want to show my classes and buy them used online.

Sorry Blockbuster.