Goodbye, Blockbuster

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 - 02:34 PM

(Fast Company)

You know you’re old, or at least a little old, when you start to love obsolete things for their uselessness.

Blockbuster announced today that they’d close their remaining three hundred retail stores. Online, I saw mostly two kinds of reactions. “I can’t believe they were still alive,” and “Good riddance, they were an awful company.”

They were an awful company, and I’ll miss them. Most Friday nights in high school, I used to skateboard down to the big Blockbuster in my hometown with my teenaged friends to rent mediocre Nintendo 64 games and idiotic teen comedies. Even in our awful, cultureless suburb, we knew Blockbuster sucked. The garish blue and yellow color scheme, the usurious late fees. The way they’d have twenty copies of American Pie III and zero copies of whatever weird arcana you’d read about in the alt-weekly. But they were the easiest place for us to tap into this larger, more exciting culture that we could mostly just glimpse.

Blockbuster got beaten by progress, and unlike with most of these trade-offs, there’s no discernible downside for consumers. Streaming video is cheaper and has near-infinite selection. Plus, there are no clerks who check your ID before letting you rent Requiem For a Dream.

You credit the places you discover culture, even if they don’t deserve it. The sad, idiotic part of me, the part that regrets Blockbuster’s death, still thinks that all movies are born in blue and yellow boxes.



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Comments [5]


you are forgetting that not everyone in this world who happens to enjoy watching movies are under 40 and own the latest tech.

many older people who don't have streaming services don't have any kind of options now.

so no, blockbuster didn't always suck.

Aug. 24 2014 05:23 PM
Kurt Cooper from Tucson

The last Blockbuster closed a while ago in our town... I miss it because it was nice to have knowledgable clerks and the occassional customer sharing their movie knowledge with us.

Nov. 06 2013 09:12 PM
Fred Garvin from Earth

"You credit the places you discover culture, even if they don’t deserve it." That's a nice line. It reminds me of my feelings about the independent record stores I frequented as a teen in the '80s.

Nov. 06 2013 04:23 PM
Ann Mason from San Francisco, CA

I can't feel sorry for that company, since it drove away some of the independent video rental stores which performed an actual service.

The indie where I used to rent VHS tapes had a huge inventory, and the staff knew something about obscure-but-great movies. That store survived Blockbuster, but closed after Netflix became popular.

We used to think chain stores were the biggest threat to independent storefront businesses, but now online rentals and retailing have destroyed some of the larger businesses which occupy brick and mortar buildings.

Making the internet available for these purposes has been good for people who can't leave home, and it's also a convenient way to find out-of-print books. However, it has become the norm, and now we're suffering the consequences. Between empty storefronts and money being taken out of communities, this convenience has damaged the local economies which we rely on to fund fire departments, county hospitals and other things which we don't often think about until we need them.

Nov. 06 2013 03:29 PM
Dailyskew from Floriduh

My sentiments exactly.

Nov. 06 2013 03:28 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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