The Video Store

“how sad and bad and mad it was - but then, how it was sweet”

― Robert Browning

Aaah, that pleasant feeling of pure nostalgia. For a long time, I would visit the local Video Store every Sunday afternoon. Behind the church, in the street of the big ALDI supermarket. The whole week I would look forward to visit this magical place. A place where I could get lost in the unsurpassed magic of the movie worlds.

While in school during the week, I often found myself daydreaming about the stories I experienced the Sunday before. An intense craving to stroll through the hallways, scouting for perfection. The exciting part was that I had no clue what I would end up with. I didn’t have a smartphone with a network connection to check IMDB just yet. I would browse through thousands of DVDs, sometimes for hours in a row. The copies were sorted by genre, which made it pretty hard to find the good ones. At first, I would make my sole decision based on the cover. Later on, I had gained some knowledge about certain actors and directors, which helped me to pic quality copies a lot better.

The owner of the Video Store was a man in his late thirties. His passion for movies made him the ultimate go-to guy with questions. Always, on that Sunday afternoon, while I was busy making an educated decision, he would watch the latest of the latest. Although, Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee were his absolute favorites. The action section, that covered the whole back of the Video Store, was made up of an exaggerated amount of Kung Fu pictures. He always recommended them to me, but I always passed. My affection was more towards the DRAMA section. Plenty of great actors, and often the OSCAR symbol appeared on top of the cover.

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I remember one time when I wanted to give The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly a try. The owner (I forgot his name) tried to persuade me to go for James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma instead. I must have been about eleven years old, and he feared that Sergio Leone’s masterpiece would be too much to endure for my young mind. Guess which one I took home that day..;)

The owner always treated me like an equal: we both were people passionate about movies. He never gave me sh*t about the Kijkwijzer (Dutch content rating company) classifications. Now I think of it, I must have been between ten and twelve years old when I rented movies like: Pulp Fiction, The Shining, and Boogie Nights. He really loved my passion for movies, and contributed to that, rather than restricting it. I admire that..

About that time, I also bought my precious BENQ projector. My big bedroom, that occupied the attic, would transform in a legit movie theater during the weekend. A humongous screen, high definition, supported by a perfect home cinema system. Often when I came back from the Video Store it would already be 3.30pm. Usually, I only rented the one movie, an older copy, for 2.50 euro. But, sometimes it was just too hard to make a final decision, so I came back with two copies, for 4 euro (double rental discount). The blinds would darken the room, and power the vivid beams of light produced by the device. I truly get Tarantino’s nostalgia for these days, it was the ultimate movie experience!

Short History of the Video Store

The first professional Video Store opened its doors in december of 1977 in Los Angeles. After a deal between 20th Century Fox and Magnetic Video, this first Video Store (ran by George Atkinson) was allowed to sell 50 titles direct to consumer. However, George also decided to rent them out. Among these 50 titles were movies like: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The French Connection, and The Sound Of Music. Stores like George’s eventually led to the creation of rental chains as Blockbuster Video, and West Coast Video.

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Around 1985 the United States had 15.000 video rental stores. In 1988 this number was estimated to be 25.000, excluding the many grocery, and drug stores that also offered rentals.

- and the viewing habits it has engendered — the Saturday night trip down to the tape rental store to pick out for a couple of bucks the movie you want to see when you want to see it

In 1987, the revenue by the home video market surpassed the box office revenue of the year.

For a brief moment video rental was a thing. From a broader perspective, we can conclude that it wasn’t long lived. Technological innovations paved the way for the video streaming giants we know today. I feel truly humbled that I’ve experienced this era of movie rentals. This probably wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t for our local Video Store. If I wasn’t allowed to take home the 16+ movies, that especially intrigued me, I might have fallen for music instead.;)

It didn't take long before I started downloading all my movies. The era of Torrents had arrived. Now I look back I feel slightly guilty that I cheated on this wonderful place, that brought me so much joy through the years. It didn’t take long before the owner had to sell the Video Store. He sold it to some foreigners that primarily used the cash business to launder money. About a year later, they closed the doors forever.

It’s those magical hours of browsing through the stands, and not knowing what you'll score, that I sometimes miss when I open the Netflix app. But, like the title of the book that substantiated the classic Die Hard tells us..

Nothing Lasts Forever