I miss Blockbuster.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know the real particulars of their business, other than that they went bankrupt and closed down. I know that it had a bit to do with Netflix and Redbox and the fact that the convenience of these services and those like them overshadowed what Blockbuster was.
Around the time I hit 8th grade, trips to Blockbuster on my dad’s weekends with my brothers and I were pretty regular. It was like a ritual we participated every other Friday after school… He’d pick us up, and we’d head over to Blockbuster. We would pick 3 movies for the weekend, and when the weekend was over, Monday morning before school we’d drop them off in the drop-off slot in the window. It was easy.
Eventually my brothers got involved in after-school activities, so it was just my dad and I that would go to Blockbuster. Sometimes he’d go get groceries, and I’d go by myself to pick out our weekend’s entertainment. I’d wait for him, milling around in the Horror or Comedy aisles, waiting for him to come and check out with my selections.
Eventually I got my own Blockbuster card. It was such a big deal for me… More of a big deal that it should have been, I guess. I was 14, and I had my own Blockbuster card. It was kind of like being recognized as someone who was responsible enough to have that card. As though, with the presentation of that little laminated blue card, I was an adult.
Time went on, and eventually we stopped going to Blockbuster so often. I finished high school, and shortly after the Blockbuster right near my school closed down. I don’t even remember it happening, it was just like one day it was there, and then suddenly it wasn’t anymore. I didn’t think too much about it at the time.
After I finished college, I ran away to Texas to live with my uncle for a little while. I got a job, and shortly after that I got an “apartment.” My apartment was really a semi-converted garage with a bathroom and a refrigerator. I didn’t have anything in the way of furniture, save for the futon my uncle let me have. So I moved in with the futon and the rest of my earthly possessions, living in a mostly-empty-but-still-somehow-messy room and a half. They’d left a table and a wire shelf in there from the previous tenant, and I was happy to have them, if only to put my things on to keep them off the floor, since when it rained, it also rained inside. Water seeped from the walls and the corners and the skylights… Why that garage needed skylights I’ll never understand. Regardless, I was happy to have my own place, for the first time in my life.
Driving home from work one day, I spotted a -you guessed it- Blockbuster. I was surprised that it was still there, since by that point I was sure they’d all closed down. Right as that thought zipped through my mind, I saw the signs… “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS, EVERYTHING MUST GO.”
Naturally I pulled into the lot and went inside. They weren’t kidding when they said that EVERYTHING MUST GO. They were selling the display shelves, the rental movies, the display TVs, the posters, everything. I got a few DVDs (my “apartment” was without internet and, living alone in admittedly gloomy circumstances, I was always happy to have some movie or another to keep me company) and a shelf. I was excited about the shelf, because although I’d recently put in a kitchen counter and sink (so that I wouldn’t have to do my dishes in the shower anymore), I didn’t really have anywhere to keep my food when I bought it. Not the things that didn’t need to be in the refrigerator, anyways.
Stores like Blockbuster and Borders are victims of the time that we live in, when we’d rather order our movies online than go with our families to pick them out from a store. It’s such a small thing, and I never really expected to miss it, but I do. I’ll never be able to take my kids to Blockbuster and have them pick out a movie and submit it to me for approval.
Everything now is all instagram and tweeting and anything that takes longer than 30 seconds is not worth doing because it all needs to be in little blurbs with 180 or so characters, no more.
Anyways, I still have my Blockbuster card. I’ll probably keep it forever.