Cover photo:  Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Do you miss video rental stores?  I do.

While it’s hard to pinpoint how many still exist, around 90% of video rental stores have shut down over the past fifteen years.

Full disclosure, I used to work at a video store.  I was thinking about all the jobs I’ve had over the years, and working at a video store was definitely one of the best!  I worked at Lee Video for a long time, which was owned by the Impocos (the same family that owned Impoco’s Video in Great Barrington).  But, even before that, growing up in Lee I used to love going to either Video File (Main St.) or Video Shed (West Park St).

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I miss talking with people in person about movies.  I miss giving recommendations, or helping people discover a cult classic that they never would have rented otherwise.  I miss seeing the happiness on kid’s faces as they rented the newest Disney movie, or rented the same one for the thousandth time, because that’s how kids roll.  I even miss secretly judging what you rented, because some of you have SERIOUSLY bad taste.

Going to a video rental store was almost like an event.  It was exciting, and even a little stressful, hoping that movie you wanted to see wasn’t all rented out!  It was crushing (and annoying) when you saw the empty shelf…but amazing when you learned the movie was still in the return pile!

video store: young woman holding a dvd

There was also a real sense of a family night, or a date night!  You would plan your whole evening around it, maybe get some candy while you were there, maybe order a pizza next door.  And, you would really hope the movie turned out good, because you were stuck with it.  Even if it was bad, chances are you watched it just to get your money’s worth.

Heck, I used to love renting video games also.  It saved me all sorts of money from buying bad games.  And, if you’re a gamer, do you remember when the save files were on the cartridges?  And how mad you felt when someone else rented the game and wrote over your save data?

VHS video cassette.

Now, of course video rental stores weren’t perfect.  I remember “talking” with customers about late fees, which so many people tried to get out of.  And yes, late fees sucked.  Also, getting home with a VHS or DVD and having it not play properly.  How awful was it to get halfway through the movie to have it start skipping?  And…RIP to all those VHS tapes that burned up in the sun in your car.

I think each generation of parents has things they wish their kids could experience…and going to the video store is one of those things for my generation.  Were they perfect?  Nope.  Is there a reason they almost all went out of business?  Sure.  Do I still miss them and wish I could have that experience again?  Heck yeah.

But, that’s just me…do you feel the same?  If so, are there any you specifically miss?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Gallery Credit: Stacey Marcus

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