Convenience killed the video store

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Want to make a quick $5?

Bet a buddy that he can’t find an honest-to-goodness movie rental store and return with a pack of Twizzlers and a copy of Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups.”

It’s easy money.

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He’d be more likely to return from his quest riding a unicorn and clutching a bottle of water from the Fountain of Youth than he would with a DVD that wasn’t rented from a big red cube.

For the most part, movie rental stores are a thing of the past.

Stores lined floor-to-ceiling with shelves of new releases and timeless classics have gone the way of the typewriter, rotary phones and cassette tapes.

They have been replaced by online stores and self-serve kiosks.

And while these new ways of renting movies have their advantages, there are things I miss about walking into a store and renting a movie, such as the hunt.

I can remember scanning the long aisles of Movie Gallery in search of the hot new release that had just come out on video — actual video, not a DVD. All the movies were arranged alphabetically and by genre, which made the hunt a little easier.

Once the movie was located, there was the moment of truth.

Had someone else beaten me to it?

For those of you who have grown up in the Netflix generation, it was actually possible at one time for a movie to be unavailable to rent. Stores had a certain number of copies.

Snooze and you’d end up watching whatever awful movie Arnold Schwarzenegger and his gigantic biceps were starring, while someone else enjoyed what could have been your copy of “Field of Dreams.”

Sure, there was disappointment at times when visiting a movie rental store. You didn’t always succeed in bringing home that must-see hit.

But there were lessons to be learned, as well.

First, the early bird really does get the worm, or in this case the movie.

Second, patience.

If an early bird beat you to the movie, you had to wait at least a few days for your chance to rent it.

And finally, you learned that true kindness means always rewinding your VHS tapes.