Local Video Store Memories

(Photo courtesy of StockVault.net)

Local Video Store Memories

Local DJ on his morning show today asked the question, “What did you like about Blockbuster Video or your local video rental store?” One listener said that she didn’t own many video games growing up but she spent weekends finishing some of the latest games at the time that her parents would rent her from Blockbuster Video.

For me, it was an adventure. Before Blockbuster Video came to town, we surprisingly had 3 different video rental stores. There was Video Today, they not only rented video tapes but also sold video equipment such as VCRs & cameras. Located prominently downtown, this store got the most exposure and pretty much had average fair. Disney, MGM, Paramount, Universal releases, very few independent straight-to-video distributors.

One thing I remember at Video Today was their video vending machine. You had a membership card that you would swipe and then you could choose a video from their selection in the machine. You would return it to the machine as well. The videos didn’t come with plastic cases, so that was a concern BUT the machine allowed me to rent a few of their Playboy selections without my parents or store clerk’s knowledge. The TikTok user Spacetime Junction restored one of the original machines, check it out to see how it worked…

Holland Video was a little off the beaten track, nestled in an area of town that has since become “the barrio”. If Video Today was bright, cheery, & clean, Holland Video was the opposite. Not sure what was in the commercial space before, I recall fake wood paneling on the walls, red shag carpeting on the floor, & having dim lighting. There were 3 different rooms, 2 rooms were for standard videos and one hidden behind a beaded curtain for “adult” video fare. This store seemed to cater to the horror & sci-fi fan as it had a huge selection of straight-to-video movies that I had never heard of, the type that were made with regular off-the-shelf video cameras and used Amiga’s Video Toaster for editing & onscreen credit generation. One of my favorites was “Video Violence… When Renting Isn’t Enough”, the huge box featuring a bloody & gory hand reaching for a video tape in an old-style VCR.

Holland Video also had on display the Friday the 13th part V advertising lamp at their front counter. Being a young teen & horror fan, I loved looking at this lamp every time we went up to the counter. Matt at Dinosaur Dracula gathered up some odd Friday the 13th memorabilia and found one of the lamps on eBay for $200…

The last video store we had was a burgeoning chain that found fame in the Netflix series, “Stranger Things”. Family Video initially had one store within biking distance of my house. I begged my parents to put me on their account as an authorized renter (since I was under 18, they required a parent to sign a form allowing me to rent under their account). Their store was a mixture of the 2 others, with standard mainstream fare, straight-to-video fare, an “adults-only” room, but they also had video games to rent. The games were for the latest systems at the time, NES & Sega. They also rented the systems, much like Blockbuster Video did when they finally came to town.

For a time in the mid-to-late 2000’s we had a Movie Gallery (aka Hollywood Video) that competed with Blockbuster Video which was a little hilarious as BBV had 3 locations in town with MG having one location on what could be considered a major thoroughfare in town so there was plenty of exposure. It closed around 2010 when the parent company went bankrupt. MG is the place I purchased our Rock Band in a Box set, I think we paid about $120 at the time which was a deal since the set was hard to come by at regular retail stores. I remember walking to the store from my office (I worked a couple miles away) and carrying the box back with me on my shoulder. We still have the microphone, guitar, & original game, sadly the drum kit broke after heavy use.

Lots of wonderful memories at the local video stores. Another experience sadly kids today won’t be able to take part in…

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