Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Dead Movie Store Epilogue

This post is a loose end and this is the last loose end I’m going to tie up for a while. I’m tiring myself out looking for unfinished business in the past. I want to get on with things and try to concentrate on moving this project forward.

But last year I did two posts about the neighborhood video store closing and since those linked to a bunch of other posts, this one last loose end has been nagging at me.

Okay. I posted that just before the video store closed its doors for the last time I bought two old horror films, one about a monster snake and one about death having a grand design. The day that I bought those two DVDs I also spent quite a bit of time talking to the store’s manager. We talked about what business issues were forcing the store to close. I assumed it was competition with the internet, downloading movies and NetFlix. But she told me the internet wasn’t the biggest problem for her.

“It’s those damn Redbox machines,” she said. “They’re everywhere. And they rent movies for a dollar. I just can’t compete with that.”

At the time I didn’t know much about Redbox and it shocked me that what I had thought of as simple, silly vending machines outside grocery stores were having such an impact on the movie rental business. In fact I knew so little about Redbox that I didn’t even mention it in my post last year because I wasn’t sure I could even believe the store manager that the machines could wreck her business.

I’d always assumed the Redbox vending machines only rented a few movies and it would be complicated using a cash card with a machine.

Well, I didn’t know beans and what I thought I knew was all wrong.

The Redbox machines are great! They’re easy to use, contain dozens and dozens of different DVDs and I can’t imagine any video store competing with dollar rentals from the vending machines.

About a week ago I walked past a Redbox machine outside a Walgreens and I noticed the machine contained an obscure ghost movie I was thinking of talking about for my ghost post. [That Space Age Archaic Glow]

[A lot got cut from that post. I was going to talk about (the saddest book in the world) a great ghost story called, “The Summer of Katya,” and an odd British ghost film/crime story called, “Dark Secrets.” But they were both too depressing and I couldn’t get up any energy to even mention them. I may get back to them, I may not. If I do it won’t be for a while because now I’m too tired of these loose ends.]

So I saw this obscure movie in the Redbox machine and I decided to find out how the machines work because I’ve always remembered how the manager of the neighborhood video rental store had blamed Redbox for making her close her business.

It turns out you can go online at the Redbox site and type in your zip code. The Redbox software will automagically pick out the vending machines nearest to you. You can select the inventory for the particular machine you’re interested in. You create an account with just an e-mail address and a password and enter a cash card number like any other net transaction. You pick out a title from the machine’s inventory and that’s it! The software reserves the DVD for you and you just walk over, swipe your card and the machine “vends” out your DVD in a plastic case. After you watch the DVD you go back to the machine, touch the screen and then stick the DVD in its case back into the same slot it came out.

No problems. No deadhead store staff to deal with. No store lines to wait in. And instead of paying $4.95—that’s what the corporate store near where I’m living charges—the Redbox machine only charges a dollar.

I’ve rented four times from Redbox now and I can’t imagine going back to a regular video store.

Hassle-free satisfaction for a buck. I don’t see how any old-style business can compete with that.

So, death the monster snake did eat the neighborhood video store where I used to live. But it was one of those evolution-in-action things where nature was just clearing away the badly adapted old generation to make way for the cool, thriving new generation. Sometimes death does have a grand design.

I’m glad evolution hasn’t pointed the monster snake at me yet!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Year Winds Down #2: Buying Junk

Dead Butterfly Flapping

My Two Favorite Monster Snake Movies

The Sexy Herpetologist Returns! (Sans Sexy)

Monster Snakes And Sexy Tee Shirts

Meanwhile, In An Abandoned Strip Mine...

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