Goodbye Blockbuster – Thanks for the Memories!

By Ashley Robinson

About twenty years ago no one would have lamented the closure of a local Blockbuster. We were all too busy saying goodbye to our locally owned video rental space being pushed out of business by the glitzy blue and yellow corporation.

But those mom and pop places are long gone (which is too bad because the only thing I remember about my childhood locally-owned video place was the “adult only” section behind swinging doors, and man, what mystery!), and now, Blockbuster is about to follow the same dusty trail into the sun.

When I went to drop off my movie rentals the other day, I noticed bright red and yellow signs on the windows of the K and 30th Street Blockbuster. “Everything Must Go!” “Store Closing!” “All Videos Are 30% Off.”

I get it, I truly do. I had just come from Safeway where there was a line for the Red Box machine, on a Sunday. I have two Netflix videos waiting for me to put in the mailbox. I can “rent” a video on Direct TV or I can watch one online. The necessity for a Blockbuster is moot. I have been to a Blockbuster on a weekend night and let me tell you, it was not bustling like it used to.

But, I do love a Friday night trip to the video store. There are some nights when falling into a pair of sweats, Uggs and a messy bun, running to the video store to rummage through the vast collection of new releases and impulsively grabbing a box of Gobstoppers on the way to the cashier is the best date night a girl and her live-in boy could have.

Those lazy weekend nights will be my favorite memory of our lives before marriage.

And the cast of characters at the K Street Blockbuster is truly the best part of the whole experience. I would never have been able to get a movie geek’s take, I mean, a really honest interpretation of a film – not just some random review by some random person – as I did at this Blockbuster. There’s the sweet but awkward guy with the curly hair and the uniform polo shirt buttoned up to his chin, the distinguished African American guy in the wheelchair who’s personality is five times bigger than his body, the super tall young kid who never has anything but a smile on his face … I know this sounds so romanticized, but I will truly miss the staff of that Blockbuster.

They have guided me and my fiancé through scary times (The Orphanage!), good times (John Adams), the weird times (Sunshine Cleaners), and romantic times (Wall-E). They have taken us on motion picture paths we never thought we would take — not randomized clicks here and there to be stacked on a website. The staff’s passion for cinema was inspiring and completely contagious.

I called to find out when the store would be closed permanently. The young man on the phone sounded like he was on the verge of tears as he choked out “April 18th, but we stop renting on Saturday.”

Ahh! My friends! If only you had been in a better location, if only you had worked harder to integrate your corporate self into the community to show how worthy you were of our business, if only you hadn’t tried so unsuccessfully to be like Netflix! If only your business model could have sustained itself.

Just as the elderly couple in “What About Bob” applauded from their boat as they watched their dream house go up in flames, I am sure there are former video store owners cheering at your demise.

But c’est le vie. This is how it is in America. One day it’s smoothie shops. The next, it’s frozen yogurt. It used to be record stores, newspaper shops and doughnut huts. But all those things come and go.

It’s the memories I will cherish.

“It’s still the same old story/ A fight for love and glory/ A case of do or die./ The world will always welcome lovers/ As time goes by.” (Name that movie!)

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4 Comments

  1. Melissa says

    They really went above and beyond at the downtown Blockbuster. It’s a shame you never asked their names- Miss Monica was my favorite for recommendations.

  2. Ashley says

    Melissa, yes, I really should have. Although, in general I am terrible with names and faces … so I doubt it would have made a difference.

    But glad you share my sentiments. 🙁

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