Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sigh... (More notes on the death of the video store)

Found out about another video store closure today: the downtown Maple Ridge Rogers Video, where I personally still go to rent movies, will shut its doors in mid-September. I normally don't make much fuss about the closure of franchise stores, but:

1. I worked at that location for two years, back in the early 1990's (pre-DVD), and have emotional attachments to it.

2. It's the only video store within walking distance of my apartment, and I'll be damned if I'm going to get on a bus - devoted non-driver that I am - for the privilege of renting a movie.

3. As generally banal and uninspired as the selection is at Rogers, I HAVE stumbled across some interesting films there, which I may not have noticed otherwise. In part this is because I'm habituated to digging deep in such locations, because I know that I'll HAVE to in order to find anything of interest. Because of this, many films I've enjoyed in the last year have been found exactly by the old fashioned method of walking the wall and peering at box art and reading the advertising copy on the back. The relative ease of finding interesting stuff online makes it, somewhat paradoxically, LESS likely that I'll dig very deep, lest I get overwhelmed; plus on DVD Beaver, invaluable as it is as my prime online resource for finding out about upcoming film fare, all you get on their very long list of films to come out is a brief written description - title, director, year. You can click on a link for more information, but I rarely do. An unfamilar title generally isn't as eye-catching as a nice big illustration on a DVD case, plus there's a question of ease of access - why would I necessarily WANT information about a movie that I'm likely going to have to do work and spend money to ever see? At least with Rogers, I know as I peruse the box art that the films are RIGHT THERE, available, and can be rented if I want. Beaver I tend to use more to see what films I already know I'm interested in are coming out on video).

4. The place does serve a social function for me, and for the community. I've met more than one person I developed friendships with there, over the years. I even met Art Bergmann there, when I worked there (he came in with friends, and I got him to autograph a VHS copy of Highway 61 for me for a hoot. He signed it, for the record, "Dear Allan: Rent this sucker! Art Bergmann"). Even now, often I enjoy bullshitting with a local metal musician who works there, whom I'll have no contact with otherwise. He even occasionally has been useful as a source of information to write about...

5. Downtown Maple Ridge doesn't really have many places to go, culturally. So few that Rogers Video counts as a cultural hot spot for me. One less place to go when walking about town is a major loss, when there were only a handful of potential destinations on my map to begin with.

Without Rogers, and without any interest in the Netflix model of delivery, it seems all the more likely that I'll just turn to torrenting movies, all the time. I actually strive at present to keep my downloads to a minimum - restricted to films that I cannot find, or know I would not buy, on DVD - but it's hard to feel very guilty when the options get fewer and fewer.

It occurs to me, in this great video store die-off that we're experiencing, the "last men standing" could potentially make out very well. It's all about outliving your competitors...


joryn said...

3 of the 4 Rogers are in the process of liquidating their stock and I'm in total agreement with your morose attitude re: these last bastions of the "hard copy" dying off.

I begin to wonder how long it will be now before physical media just starts to die off in general. No more special features (Hey some of us watch/listen to them!), no more extended/directors cuts (without having to buy/download 2 different copies), etc. etc.

Time to put the extra money into buying up as many dvds/blu movies I can!

Allan MacInnis said...

I'm going to do a new post on this, but what I was told today at the surviving Maple Ridge Rogers (closing in a week's time) is that ALL Rogers Video stores are closing...