T-to-the-A

Cheapy cheaps = bye bye video store

In The Daily Drool on May 24, 2010 at 10:26 am

There aren’t a lot of video places in Prescott Valley… in fact I think there was one.  Was being the operative word, since Hollywood Video was it’s name and now bankruptcy is its game.   I walked in to the store today with every intention of renting myself something delightful (Census taking is over early folks, we were just too efficient!) and instead walked out with a fistful of reduced price movies.

You better know what you want to watch, because there's no shelf-strolling here

And I like the reduced price movies part… I’m just saddened that all PV will be left with for rentals now is the Red Box thing, which requires you to know what you want up front and be ready not to get it (they have a pretty limited selection- I mean, just how many DVD’s can you fit in a big red box?!).   Gone are the days of aimlessly wandering down aisles of flicks… gone are those moments of hand-holding while you try to figure out which movie your date will make out with you to…  Instead, it’s downloads, internet orders, and Redbox.

(sigh)

Where’s the fun in that?

And it got me thinking… thinking about the ways of money and how we build to excess… Hollywood Video obviously overextended itself.  Blockbuster has been closing stores all over the place.  I imagine when HV was trying to find someone to bail them out, the investors said something like this: “Video stores?!  Haven’t you heard of Netflix?  There’s no money in rental houses anymore.  Get online, conquer Netflix, then we’ll talk.”  Because it’s all about money.  All these invisible people who sit around buying and selling stock… they’re the ones deciding our worth as consumers, home owners, and business-people.

And it sucks.

I’m not a business major, I’m not a money expert (obviously) – But in today’s economy, doesn’t it seem like we should be doing everything we can to hang on to our assets and stop handing portions of it over to traders in NY?  Will we change our business practices at all?  I mean, it’s a totally ridiculous proposition, but would we still be in the slump we are in if we hadn’t handed so much control over to these big business people in the first place?  Those men up on the mountain top nickel and diming each other to death over the value of businesses sprinkled all over the world?  Is this economic slump/depression really an opportunity for revolution?

Can we give up our abject fascination with getting everything as cheaply as possible?

Because that’s the other element to this… the “Who’s got the better deal” syndrome that has become an international plague.  We aspire to build up our own wealth by spending less and less… driving for the lowest production rates, lowest consumer prices… until what’s left?  Of course we’re broke and all shopping at Wal-Mart.  We bought in and rode it to the ground… Them (the big money men) and Us (the cheap-skates making their job easier)  Feeding off the same unhealthy cycle.  How on earth do we break free?

I don’t know.  I just cringe to think at how little control we have over things anymore, and how few people hold the purse strings… It seems to me, in a world as ever-expanding as ours, that there ought to be more balance.

There ought to be more video rental stores.

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  1. I do have to say, I kind of miss them myself, too. It’s been several years since I fell out of the practice of patronizing them, so I figure I share some of the blame. It’s hard to compete with the Netflix model honestly. Unlimited warehouse space versus a store with fixed square footage? Right there, just in theory, the Video Store chains were toast. Of course, the stores were at their best when they were independent, Mom & Pop outfits in the beginning. Then they all had charm and character. If you went enough, they knew your name and would talk film with you. I miss those days more than the Blockbusters and HV stores.

    The great big problem is our marketplace now chases either the extreme high end, luxury items, or the dirt cheap bargains. That’s all there is and it’s hurting us as a society. Have you ever seen the documentary on Walmart? Devastating. Just devastating. Among the many bad effects they’ve had on our brand of capitalism, they’ve conditioned entire generations, not to mention spectrums of the work sector, to expect bargain basement products. Not quality products, cheap products. $45 DVD player? Why sure, that makes sense. So cheap, if it breaks, you can buy another. That does not make sense in the long run. Which is why we have credit. So you can borrow to buy another one, when you need it and your hourly won’t cover it. Mix that with LUXURY items in big capital letters – what celebrities buy, their clothing lines, and what Oprah gives away on her Oprah’s Favorites episode and you’ve got everyone, either buying cheap or living a fantasy life – both on credit with no way to back it all up with their meager paycheck!

    So good luck, Red Box! I’m sure your days are numbered, too!

  2. I doubt it’s just wall street and investors that have caused video stores to go under. Because, think about it, mom and pop video stores should be unaffected by that dynamic – but they started to go out of business a while ago. I think actually the Blockbusters and Hollywoods probably held on longer because they had financial backing and national branding.

    I think it is sad – the loss of a place where you can walk around and find a movie when you didn’t even have one in mind. But at the same time, I’ve only actually been to a video store once in the last year – and I walked out amazed that I had spent $35 on 3 movies and a video game! Plus, the late fees and all that – they make me not mourn the loss of them so much.

    I’m a big fan of Netflix, and their streaming service. I watch so many movies that way, and it’s so affordable compared to video stores. I think that’s why Redbox and Netflix are winning – they offer more movies for less money. Especially in this kind of economy, that’s going to be very appealing.

  3. That is EXACTLY what I’m talking about Doc, we are totally conditioned and programmed to want EVERYTHING for NOTHING or as little as we possibly “spend” be it money, credit, or effort (sigh) and it IS depressing.

    Also, sometimes you want to see/need to watch for research, something right away – having to wait for the mail is inconvenient in a weird sort of “Look how amazing it is that I can order movies by interweb, but oh, I have to wait three days to get it” (she says with a rueful smile) I think in LA it’s not that big of a deal because you can run to a host of eclectic stores if need be to find what you are looking for. In Prescott, there is now ONE video rental place… ONE, to serve a tri-city area. Your only other option is RedBox. And RedBox doesn’t have the first season of Rome, does it!? GARRRRRRRRR

  4. Ohh, I know it’s not the investors who caused their failings per say, it’s just so damned frustrating that they are causing/contributing/stirring up the failings of so many (sigh) And I know the rental house has been hard hit by Netflix/et. all, but that too is part of the problem. If they weren’t so overextended and if we didn’t build businesses on anticipation of future growth – living WITHIN our means, so to speak – perhaps they wouldn’t all fold in on themselves so terribly. I don’t know. I’m obviously not an expert. I just cringe at all the empty storefronts around here. People are really starting to cut back on unnecessary purchase, which is great on an individual basis, but it’s tragic on a community level because those people in business for the superfluous? Totally screwed. And we just don’t make anything anymore – we’re a land of buyers/sellers… so what do the out-of-work sellers do?

    I guess they franchise a RedBox 😉

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