From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resistance Is Futile

That machine in front of Kroger


I was visiting with my neighbor Sally a few weeks ago, and I mentioned that Blockbuster Video was having financial problems. "Oh, no!" she exclaimed, visibly distressed.

"Yes," I said. "It seems that Blockbuster has been hurt by Redbox and Netflix. It's just not getting enough business to turn a profit."

"If we lose Blockbuster, we won't have a video rental store in Hopkinsville." Sally paused to imagine that situation. "Just what is that Netflix?" she demanded.

I explained Netflix the best I could, from my own second-hand knowledge. People subscribe to Netflix online. They choose movies from a huge list, and Netflix delivers the movies by mail. People find the service convenient and affordable.

"So, you have to own a computer," Sally said with disgust. "Well, I don't have one, and I don't want one! Going to the video store is part of what I really enjoy about renting a movie!"

"...that machine in front of Kroger"
"If Blockbuster closes," she continued, "the only place left to rent a movie will be that machine in front of Kroger. I don't want to rent a movie from a machine on a sidewalk. I want to go to a video store." (The machine in front of Kroger is, in fact, a Redbox, part of the competition that is giving Blockbuster so much trouble.)

So far, Blockbuster in Hopkinsville is still open, and I hope that Sally is renting enough movies to help it stay in business. However, when I won a $5 Blockbuster gift card at work recently, I decided to spend it right away, just in case our store closes. I didn't want the hassle of renting and returning a movie, so I just got $5 of microwave popcorn packets.

The law of supply and demand is at work here. Blockbuster is in financial trouble because many people have decided that lower prices and convenience are more desirable than a shopping experience in a store. The internet has played a part in that change.

I feel a little sad for Sally.  She has set her mind against having a computer. She could easily afford one, but maybe she is afraid she couldn't learn to use it. I don't think she'd have much trouble. She has mastered her DVD/VCR player and her satellite TV. Turning on the computer and getting on the internet is hardly that complicated.

Or maybe Sally has taken her anti-computer stance solely as a protest to unwanted change. Well, she can decide that she won't participate, but that won't stop computers and computerized machines from changing things.

4 comments:

Annalee said...

I agree that renting a movie from an actual video store is quite fun.

I especially remember going in, browsing through and reminiscing about all the old movies I watched growing up as a kid and seeing with friends and family ... I loved that nostalgic feel.
Then there were the people who worked at the video store, people and friends in the community who you always loved to chat and "discuss the weather" with.

Although Redbox, Netflix and all that jazz are convienent and very afforable (I admit that Im a big Redbox fan) .. There was definitely something different (and better?) about renting a movie from an actual store.

Keely said...

Actually, there are still several movie rental places in Hopkinsville. There's one in the little Indian Hills shopping center at the corner of Country Club and Canton. There just aren't any other Blockbusters.

Genevieve said...

Annalee, I have to confess that I've never been a frequent-enough movie watcher to get acquainted with the folks who work at a video store.

And that explains why Keely has to tell me that there are other stores in Hopkinsville where you can rent a movie. I'm glad to hear about the place in Indian Hills, and I will tell Sally about it (even though it could take some of her business away from Blockbuster!)

John Ruberry said...

I used to like it too, the looking part, although the people who worked at these places were nice, they were kind of dopey. And in the VHS days, whenever I got a bad tape, I'd here, "You need to adjust your tracking." Uh, no. It was a bad tape.

The Blockbuster closest to me, in Niles, closed a year ago.

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