If you’re like me, you’ve been seeing a lot of these signs lately while driving past Blockbuster stores (you know, that place you used to go for entertainment a long long time ago…). Blockbuster used to be the Starbucks of its day: One for every 2 mile radius. But now they all seem to be disappearing faster than your unemployed friend when the check comes. But the funny part is how Blockbuster is trying to cover it up by stating “This Location Only” on all of their store closing signs. Failure is always embarrassing, and we all like to cover up a bit for ego-sake, i.e. “Yes, I watch the Jersey Shore but only because I like to make fun of it…” But it doesn’t work when you have all of the seasons on DVD and The Situation’s new book on your library shelf.
I have to say, I do feel a bit of sympathy for any business that is forced to close in this struggling economy. Every big business represents many employees that will now have to find a new job (not an easy thing to do nowadays). But at the same time, I can’t help but feel a little vindicated. Growing up in a small town, one of my favorite places to go was the local video store with its dim lighting, massive collection of old and obscure horror movies, and the colorful cast of after-school workers (yes, I was one of them). But then came the blue-shirt mafia who put out of business every single local video store by flooding the marketplace with numerous locations and an overstock of new releases. Once that happened, unless you wanted to watch re-runs on TV that Friday night, you had no choice but to become a member. And once they had you…they had you. It wasn’t enough just to charge you $5 for an almost guaranteed waste of time (thanks Hollywood….), but if you didn’t mark down the return date on your calendar and get into your car and make a special trip not to get anything, but to give something away, you get slammed with a late fee which can sometimes cost you more than the movie itself. But we had no choice, and they knew it.
Now we have a choice, and something better came along: Online media…ahem..Netflix. A more reasonably priced, easier, environment-friendlier, and less maddening movie selecting experience. The reign of the Roman Empire of celluloid that was Blockbuster has fallen, and thanks to its own hubris. Just a few years ago, Blockbuster believed itself too big to worry about some small online company like Netflix to even consider it competition. But Netflix just continued to grow as Blockbuster did nothing. By the time Blockbuster introduced its own online system, it was already too late. This outcome was already inevitable.
So as you drive by and you see the “Store Closing. This Location Only.” sign, before you decide to slam on your brakes and do a total ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ maneuver into the parking lot to pick up some bargain bin DVDs like…well…Gone in 60 Seconds from their inventory sale, just remain calm. I’m sure you will be able to find it at the other store closing just up the road.