For the generation who have grown up with Netflix, the idea of going to a video shop seems laborious. Having to leave the house, interact with other humans, make an informed choice based on what is available in the store, all with the knowledge that you also have to take the item back, sounds like hard work – and it was! But it was also fun and I miss it.
Knowing I was going to rent a video was an exciting thing. The endless possibilities of what I could rent, coupled with the idea that if I was lucky my parents might agree to two films, was enough to put my mind into overload!
Again, this might not seem all that exciting to today’s generation, but back then when we only had four television channels, a trip to the video shop was like a gateway into another world. A world that had a certain penchant for Jackie Chan movies, Police Academy sequels, or anything featuring Cynthia Rothrock.
This was also during an age (pre-digital) when children’s programming was restricted to two hours at tea-time (3:30pm-5:30pm) and a few hours on weekend mornings. As a kid, going into a video store meant having access to a range of children’s movies and cartoons, which certainly helped relieve the boredom of BBC Grandstand.
Walking into the shop I never knew what I would walk out with. Would it be a new comedy starring Steve Gutenberg? Would it be a poorly animated feature that had great box art but no story? Or would it be BMX Bandits (1983) – a movie I rented so often I probably financed Nicole Kidman’s early career.
No matter what I rented, it was always an exciting experience. The build-up before I got to the shop; the fun of parading the aisles (avoiding the horror movies I was clearly not meant to see); the smell of popcorn – it was all heaven.
For the best part of twenty years I went to the video shop, which eventually became the same shop I later worked in. I really do miss it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Netflix and I totally understand why the video shop closed, but that still doesn’t mean I am not forever mourning its passing.
The last time I visited a video shop was back in 2007. That shop was a Blockbuster situated just down the road from where I lived. Never did I realise that it would be the final time I would rent a video.
Every once in a while, when I am scrolling through Netflix, trying to avoid a crap movie starring Cynthia Rothrock, I spare a thought for the once mighty video shop. How much joy it brought me, how much popcorn it provided me with, and how much I miss it.
Those who didn’t live through the video rental age will never know the dizzying heights of finding a must-see title sat on the shelf. They will also never know the crashing lows of popping in for a browse and being made aware you needed to pay your late fees.
Gone, but never forgotten. Ah, memories.
If you enjoyed reading this little rewind to the past, then you might like to know this is just one of the many chapters from my new book: Rewind to the ’90s – A Journey Through 100 Movies of the 1990s.
The book is available as a digital edition for your Kindle, phone, or tablet, from Amazon UK, Amazon US, and pretty much every Amazon worldwide. It takes a fresh look at an exhaustive collection of movies from the 1990s, including Striptease, Timecop, Quigley Down Under, Passenger 57, Weekend at Bernie’s II, and many, many more.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! for this trip down memory lane. For more movie-related posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
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5 Responses to I miss video rental stores
Just one of the great things I miss about the ’80s and ’90s; video rentals.
Oh, and I do have a copy of BMX Bandits.
*** I bought a lot of movies when a local movie store closed
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No way! I had a copy on DVD but no idea what happened to it. It’s rarely on TV either!
Those were the days.
Such happy times.
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Yup. I really miss rental stores too, had this conversation recently with friends. There are certain shops I walk past (previous rental stores) that bring back a flood of memories. I can remember the smell of the shops, the excitement and spending an hour trying to figure out what to watch. Coming back with munchies and If I was really lucky a Chinese, made the evening extra special. I didn’t care what the weather was like, raining, snowing was all part of the experience. Everything is too easy these days and no effort is required. Sad times, an experience my boys will never know.
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Yeah, it was always good to pick up a video then pop for a takeaway on the way home! It would now be seen as too much hassle, as everything can be downloaded/streamed and delivered, but the experience of going out, making choices etc is lost. I would think the next generation wouldn’t be that bothered, and I totally understand, but for us it just feels like a shame that this is all gone now. I would love for video shops to make a comeback, but alas, it won’t happen now.