Based on an article that appeared in the Amherst Bulletin.
When I was a child I remember often going to video stores, back in the 1980s and 90s when they were at their business and cultural zenith. The small white lights framing the posters of new releases, the membership cards, and the videos with their boxes, both pristine and weathered lining the shelves with constellations of Hollywood’s glossy stars and legends. I used read the summaries printed on their backs, absorbing all the dramatic language employed by marketers in to reel in curious browsers.
Now those outlets of my childhood once so ubiquitous, are going the way of the payphone or the drive in Movie Theater to make a more motion picture related comparison. Now the last independent video rental store is going out of business by the end of this month.
Video Zone, a small store located on Tina Ave in South Deerfield has been in existence since 1995, and supposedly was another video store before that.
The article about the closing in the Amherst Bulletin, goes on to claim that a decline in the number of customers who have taken advantage of other means of acquire movies for home entertainment have been to the detriment of this places. And it’s not only small video stores, but also larger ones. Movie Gallery Inc, the company behind such home entertainment rental chains as Movie Gallery and Hollywood video closed all its stores last year, and even blockbuster has had to file for bankruptcy.
Services such as the DVD by mail rental service Netflix, Red Box machines outside Department stores and Supermarkets allow people on errands to rent one without having to schedule that extra trip to video store. Then there are those at home options, that just a decade or two ago were so few in both variety and strength. Services from cable providers such as OnDemand allow viewers to purchase a movie with little more than a remote control, iTunes and other media players have in addition to a seemingly endless reservoir of music an equally large arsenal of movies to be rented from personal computers or iphones, and of course those services like Hulu or YouTube where content can be viewed free of any charge. And of course there is always DVDs that can be purchased.
But there are drawbacks to all this. Those less tech savvy or those who don’t have computers with high-speed internet access can’t utilize these services, and many communities without the large retailers such as those in rural areas don’t have red box machines. Red boxes also only provide a narrow selection of newer releases, leaving may disappointed who hunger for a classic.
Still there are some local rental places that have so far staved off total defeat. The only one that comes to mind is Pleasant Street Video in Northampton that likely serves a niche in terms of those who like older, less known, and more avant guard films, though there is even a For Sale sign in their window. That is not to say that there won’t be some that will be able to hold out somehow by still attracting the interest of movie buffs, after all there are still 372 Drive-ins in the U.S according to Drive-ins.com. The big question is can small renatl stores in mostly small towns build enough support within thier communities and tap the market for nostalgia in a population that increasingly seeks to get as many products and services without venturing outside the jungle of thier own homes?