Thursday, October 7, 2010

The End of a Video Era

Last July I discovered an old school video shop not too far from my house called Star Video that I was shocked to find was still stocked primarily with VHS tapes (sun faded and all), both for sale and for rental - check out the post I made about the tapes I got from there. It was the kind of place I had thought was totally extinct, but there it was, a relic from the past managing to somehow stay in business in the present.

About 6 months later, in January of this year, one of my local papers ran a cover story on this very shop that talked about how business had slowed over the years but that the place still managed to have a loyal customer base that kept it afloat. Being published right around the same time as I got news of a combo Blu-ray/VHS player on the market and a new horror film, House of the Devil, being released on VHS, I was riding on a nostalgic high - were VHS and mom and pop video stores making a comeback?! A look at today's cover of the same local paper that ran the story less than a year ago brought me back to a sad reality ; this kind of place just cannot possibly exist in this day and age.

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Yep, after two decades of being in business, Jerry Mulholland closed up shop this past weekend. He opted to not renew his lease after his 17 year old daughter, who worked at the shop, went off to college. "If i'm not employing someone from my family, it's not worth it", Jerry said for the reasoning behind this decision, a decision that is also tied to the fact that he operates a landscaping company that takes up much of his time and of course, that business has declined heavily since he bought the shop in 1990. He held a going out of business sale over the weekend (if I only heard about this before today....) and then boxed up the remainder of his tapes and DVDs, which are in storage until they are sold off at flea markets. An empty shop is all that stands in Star Video's former location, just waiting to be turned into something much more relevant to the times.

Jerry, you had a great run and i'm gonna miss stepping foot into your time machine of a shop that brought me directly back to my childhood. Though I thought about going in there more often than I actually did make the trip out there, it was always comforting knowing you and Star Video were just a short drive away.

With a Blockbuster near me going under a few weeks back and now this, it's becoming pretty clear that the days of video rental stores are incredibly numbered, with machines, the internet and television on demand services more than ready to take over the reigns. I truly feel sad for the youngsters growing up in these current times who will not know the joys of walking into a store stocked with thousands of movies and hand choosing one to spend their night with. Though todays technologies make renting easier and cheaper, that experience is just something that sadly has been lost in the process and cannot be replaced by any technological advancements.

"I'd much rather get a video there than from a box." - Lisa Federico, a longtime loyal Star Video customer.

To all the video shops that have suffered similar fates, you are missed.

5 comments:

Hush said...

Great entry! I remember those days! Your post makes me think back of the old days when my dad brought me and my sibling to Amoeba to pick out some VHS movies we want to watch. At that time, videos used to cost like $20, now it's like $0.99 at the Goodwill store. The thing I like about VHS is that it's simple. When you don't finish watching a movie, you can stop, and continue later. I used to do that when I was a kid. Sometimes you just want to watch for 10 mins before going to school and continue watching the rest later when you come back. Those were the days!

initforthekills said...

I worked in an independent video store that featured rare and cult movies. It was both the lowest paying and the best job ever. It hurts to know those stores are gone for good.

Johnny said...

Ya, that's one thing that's definitely lost with DVD's and Blu-ray's.

Jenn said...

Sam and I were driving around today on errands and the like, and we drove past several defunct video stores. I mentioned how the video store is dead and what a shame that is, being as how that's how I got into horror in the first place.

There's a video store similar to the one you speak of right by my house and I've blogged about it frequently. There's a couple of others in the Richmond area as well, just not on my side of town, so it's kind of a hike.

They are a dying, if not already dead, breed, and something I mourn completely. RIP

inSain9876 said...

Dude, I remember going to my local video store when I was about 12 or 13 and literally spending over an hour or 2 just wandering through the store trying to find the perfect video...judging everything on box art alone. I rented a TON of Full Moon videos based on cover art. I used to bug the clerks to let me have the movie posters in the window whenever they got new ones. I did score a kick ass Army Of Darkness poster...but lost it over the years. VHS was pretty fuckin great back in the day. With Blu-Ray, DVD, and HD streaming video...VHS is going the way of the 8-track and cassette tape. I can say I was there when it was still a great thing to waste half a day picking out a movie for the weekend.