Nostalgia Truths: VHS & Video Stores Sucked

renting video vhs


No. This isn't a shoot article to rile up a bunch of people who are in love with the ways of yesteryear, this is the truth about life before now. See, a lot of people can't stop themselves from going online and reminiscing about "how fun it was to visit the local video store back in the day" and to a degree I, myself, am included in this group of assholes.

Visiting the local video store was a great experience. The sights, sounds and smells are ones that I can recall to this day. There was nothing like spending an hour combing over cool box art and coming across a movie that you had never seen or heard of before. And a good rule of thumb was that the cooler the box art the better your chances of the the movie sucking was going to be. But that didn't stop you, you grabbed it anyway because you knew this one was going to be different. There was nothing like the experience, because it was the only way to experience new or classic film. But therein lies the problem, it was the only way.

What I described above was a good day at the video store, which more often than not, was a rare thing. The true visit to the video store went more along the lines of self-inflicted torture.

If I wanted to go to the video store I had to ride my bike or walk because no one was going to drive me three times a week to look at movies, if I wanted a ride I'd have to wait till Friday (which was movie night). But no problem, it was only a mile jaunt to the local mom and pop store which only took a few minutes, when the weather was nice. When the weather was bad, still a few minutes, but fuck did that journey suck especially when it was winter. Once I'd get there I'd head straight for the 'New Releases' section because who knows what came out since I was last here (yea, a whole 36hrs ago) and find that none of those films were in stock. Okay, no biggie, maybe I'll just see if anything got past me in the Horror section and see what we're working with. This is where I'd spend the bulk of my time, about 40 minutes, and then end up grabbing something that had cool art (which sucked) and re-renting Nightmare 3 and Fright Night. Why re-rent? Because I'd given up and knew that I would still enjoy these even though I had seen them a thousand times. Now its time to collect my movies and be on my way, but wait there is a line and almost all the tapes have been returned without being rewound. So they throw them into a tape rewinder (it was like a vcr but only rewound the tape but faster than a vcr could) and then after fifteen minutes of boring small talk I was able to get on my way back home.

This wasn't the worst experience ever and rarely did I have a problem with late fees because of the proximity of the store to my house. But after a fire and the opening of a Hollywood Video a few miles away, shit got way worse.

Hollywood Video was ten miles away so that cut out walking or biking, but at that point I could drive and so could my friends. Now getting there wasn't overly hard, but trying to get there before 3pm, with five movies, so you didn't get a $1000.00 dollars in late fees was. Seemed like no matter what making sure your tapes were rewound and back at the right time was like a scene out of every action film ever made. And if those tapes weren't rewound you had to pay for that too. If the mom and pop adventures were torture then this was an execution.

Hollywood Video was out of the way, never had the new shit (and if they did it was at a premium) and was a madhouse of people all the time scrambling to snatch up videos before anyone else could. This exercise in bullshit went on for a long time even when DVDs hit the market. They still couldn't manage to keep new films in stock, but by then the writing was on the wall.

See it seemed okay at the time because we didn't have any options. You could either waste time and money renting a movie and then be in a mad dash to return it or hit up Suncoast video and drop 40.00 dollars on owning one movie. Given those options renting was awesome and fun, but looking back it was just the lesser of two evils.

So the next time you wanna brag or reminisce about how great it was to hit up the local video store when you were a kid remember this. You wasted money to get there, money on a movie you didn't own, money because it was returned late and money because you forgot to rewind it.

Video Stores were cool on a good day but most of the time they just sucked.

Rich Stile Twitter: @TheDevilsEyes1

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