Friday, July 26, 2013


As great and convenient as things like Redbox and especially Netflix can be, I gotta be honest, if given a choice, I'd prefer that there'd be a decent video store around for me to rent DVDs at. Part of this is personal, of course some of you may know that I basically grew up in a video store, and our family ran a whole chain of them at one point, but there's advantages to it to, thank frankly I find lacking elsewhere. You know, I post links to my reviews on a site called, where I rank films for the guy who runs it, and every time I post a new set of reviews, I have him, add the movie(s) to his long list that he doesn't have on their, so I can rank them, and post a link to my reviews, and I'll betcha dollars to donuts that nobody frustrates him more than me in this regards, because not only do I have hundreds of reviews to still post, but, often I make him go scrambling to find the titles of the films I reviewed. I'll bet you that rarely, is there a set of reviews I post where he has already linked to half of the films I happen to be writing about that week. He asks where I get/find these movies, and I tell him, simply, Netflix, the library, I keep track and all, but it's not just the keeping track; it's the browsing itself. On Netflix, every week, usually Sunday Mornings at around 1:00a.m., they post the titles they're getting next week, and that's when I fill out what room is left in my queue, with new releases, and they aren't just the big Hollywood films. (There's also TV series, that I add when I have room, I'll get to that later however). Same with the library, they add new titles, sometimes everyday, almost certainly every week, I browse their website, and I keep titles of what they have, and all the new titles I don't know offhand, I look them up, usually I try to get to most of them, and eventually I do. You see, that's something that's lacking nowadays, this browsing; I can't understand for instance, how anybody could go to a videostore, and not take an hour, minimum, deciding what to get. There's an art to it. You can't get three films that are the same genre of something. You need to balance something dark with something lighter for instance, and then something strange and unusual maybe. (Assuming that the store limit/preference is three, which is usually the case) Yes, there's newer titles, but there's many other titles there, and not just the big movies. Some films became more popular after they got video and DVD releases, like "The Silence of the Lambs", "The Shawshank Redemption", and "Crash" for instance, not to mention many cult films. They were found, by people searching through the halls of a video store, and people trying them out. That's part of the experience to me. You can do that online, I certainly do, but-eh, most people don't. They go and find the things they're looking for and the things they like, and they're never gonna find anything new and different that way. There's a world of movies, and now television out there, just waiting for people to watch, and to some extent, a good portion of people don't even know they exist.

If you're a real movie buff/fan, then, you're gonna look around, try and find something different. At least that's how it should be, and of course, that era is dying, and frankly, it's getting harder and harder to even find a Blockbuster around. (DishTV, who owns Blockbuster, closed 300 stores earlier this year, on top of numerous earlier closings, and the company is bankrupt in the UK in fact.)

This is where we begin explaining why, my complaint's meter is off-the-fucking-charts! Oh yeah, you see there is one truly distinct advantage left for video stores, outside of the film buffs/nostalgia geeks like me. If you absolutely, positively, have to fucking get a movie, a specific title especially, right the fuck now, then, a video store should be your savior. They're still relatively cheap, and while yes, not all video stores are equal unfortunately in terms of quantity and quality available, certainly there are titles that one should be able to expect to find, on a moment's notice. This is when I was making that bus ride, to Blockbuster, to get a friend to see the last season of "Dexter", season 6, before I got to season 7 on DVD, which I plan to get through Netflix. N-Now, here's where it get complicated. The limit for the blockbuster, is typically, three videos out a time. There's two reasons for this, one, they want quick turnaround, they like it when you to come back and rent more, instead of renting everything at once, besides you don't want late fees, and the best way to pile up late fees, is to check out more movies than you're able to watch in the alotted time, which is always tempting.

Now this is where it gets tricky, they only have one copy of the 4th disc of Season six, of "Dexter", which is the finale episode, at least on the DVDs, on Blu-Ray's it's a little different, that wasn't available at all, (Also, a problem.) So, after my friend caught up on Dexter's latest story, he wants to finish it, and sure enough, if you know the show and the season, you pretty much have to see that season's finale. Unfortunately, it's first come, first serve, and since I'm not gonna just, hold out, in case the renter returns that day, with the copy, which was the only kind of hold they allowed for (Which is fucking bizarre and fucked up) and since I'm bussing everywhere, when it's not there the next visit, I quickly find some replacements for him. I got him hooked on "Girls", thinking, okay he'll get through this, I'll return, and we're back to the "Dexter", which should be in by now. Which of course, it wasn't. Neither was the season of "True Blood" he wants to catch up on. To top this all off, I searched for my third backup, the first season of "Justified" which he hasn't started yet, although I know he'll like, and they never had it in stock. They have seasons 2 & 3, for some fucking reason, they never had one? And have apparently many complaints, begging the question, "Why don't you order it? Apparently you're losing money and customers because of it?" Wouldn't you search for titles for people if they really wanted them, or about just logically, if you're gonna stock 2 & 3, you oughta stock one? No, they tell me, that a copy of the "Dexter" disc I want, is at the Maryland and Silverado branch, which is about, well, I'm not gonna check on google maps, but at least 15-20 miles away, and again, I bus everywhere? And even if I didn't, why the fuck would I drive 20 miles for a fucking DVD?!

This is really fucking stupid, because if there's one thing, that people would actually need to fucking see right away, that videostores should be better at carrying than even Netflix and especially Redbox, it's TV series! Frankly  (IDEA PATENT PENDING) if it was me, I'd start a whole video store, that just carried TV shows! There's plenty available, just start stocking up, it'd be, easily ten bucks/per show per rental, because you'd be renting a season, maybe $15 even, but I bet people would rent for that amount for the series they really want. (That's about the same as three average movie rentals, why now?) You can even still get movies, but you don't need to make it a focus anymore. That's where the money should be, stocking DVDs of TV series, especially ones that aren't streaming anywhere like "Entourage" for instance; that's impossible to find on the internet legally. 60+ years of television, and we've just now got the best possible home-watching format to watch them on; this would be the first thing I'd stock up on, instead of getting studios to promise availability of their movies a month or two ahead of Netflix, that ain't gonna help for long. If a movie's good enough, you can wait, when you miss it on TV, you're already behind, and you need to catch up. Or you just don't want to think too much, and just watch a bunch of "Seinfeld" all weekend or whatever, people do that. That's why we pay $40-$50 bucks for seasons of shows we love. It's like they don't see where they can actually earn money, and that's the real reason Netflix is kicking Blockbuster's ass. It certainly isn't because Netflix, is that much of a better-run company; I might've complained more than anybody about Netflix's business decisions since this blog started, but good God, compared to Blockbuster, they don't have to be that well-run. They know their audience and market is there,and  they're not leaving, and it makes sense for them to create their own series and get Emmy nominations now. The opportunities to survive, is right in front of their face, and now, all they can do is keep closing stores left and right, and somehow pray that people are willing to drive five or six miles to go watch "Admission" before it hits Netflix. I mean, I love Tina Fey, but I'm in no rush to catch that, even on Netflix, and I don't know anyone who is. I mean, it's this simple, learn you're customer, adapt, survive! This isn't rocket science here. Especially as their customers are getting narrower and narrower, you better friggin' cater to them and their needs. Start upping the price, starting getting things in stock that people want to see, that shouldn't be a problem since there's fewer stores available, do what you can to keep them in stock- there's no shame in keeping all the DVDs behind the desk and just putting out boxes, that's fine, and it mostly stills works.

I mean, it's not just that Netflix and Redbox are succeeding, in fact considering how Netflix can't help but stumble over themselves, it's definitely not that; it's because Blockbuster, which is/was the major chain, has failed miserably at figuring out the niche to survive. They could thrive, and instead they're on life support, and they fucking should be the way they're run. You make it that impossible, for the customer to get what they're looking for, especially since, you're the emergency place, that needs to stock up on the "Just in case, someone's never seen "Downton Abbey" place, get it in stock! If you can name another modern-day advantage to a video store, over Netflix or Redbox, tell me now, 'cause that's it. The extreme film buffs like me, are ignored at Blockbuster 'cause Netflix gives us more options, (Hell, the library gives us more options nowadays) people who need to find titles right away that they can't get elsewhere, and coinciding with that, the most important kind of thing, people need to see right away, are TV shows, and they're not putting them in stock. The only ones left are people without a computer, that's about it. I gave up, I added the damn "Dexter" to my Netflix, I wasted a precious queue spot, on something I already saw, because it wasn't worth it to go back and forth to Blockbuster, and there's no other place around to get it. You might as well go out of business, seriously. I mean, if you're gonna tell a customer that what they want is 20 miles away, and they aren't gonna help you get it...!? Any other companies stay in business doing that? That's like walking into a Popeye's and having them just say, "Go to KFC, the chicken's better, cheaper and closer". Well, fuck, if that's the case, I'm going!

I love browsing but now if you want to browse, you'll have to do it on the Internet, for the rest of us, that only do it at a video store, I'm sorry, but at this point, the pasttime's over, and now, who knows how many people are never going to even see all the films they're missing out on?


Brandon Early said...

Good points well articulated. I now live in an area with no actual brick and video stores. I haven't rented any tv series on disc from Netflix for a while, but I seem to recall the downside there being that if a season was spread over multiple discs - and it always is - that Netflix would inevitably send the discs out of sequence. Then I'd have to sit on the out of sequence disc - and eat up one of only three discs out at a time - until the earlier disc arrived.

The instant gratification of streaming is nice, but it does kill the "thrill of the hunt" as far as movies are concerned. Movies vanishing from my Queue before I have an opportunity to watch them because of shifting contractual arrangements sucks pretty bad, too.

David Baruffi said...

Yeah, that's occasionally happened to me with Netflix, that said though, they make every possible attempt to send a previous disk, as soon as possible, usually even if I have the limit amount of disks, in my case 3, out at the same time. So, I'd still highly recommend Netflix for series, even on DVD. Yeah, it's a pain that they eat up discs on your queue, but if it's a good, I find that it's more than worth it.

Well, as to the movies vanishing from the queue, usually those are only regarding streaming movies, and honestly, I'm not a believer that streaming is here to stay, specifically because of all these contractual arrangements, and also because there will never be a time when everything that is ever available will be streaming, so I'm a firm in the-eh, "If you have to pick one" scenario, that you always pick the DVD option they have, preferably blu-rays, especially if you want TV series, many are not available on Netflix, in anything other than blu-ray, for some reason. The best option of course, is to have, a video store around, with decent selection if you can, +streaming, multiple sources if possible, + a Netflix DVD account, and I go to my local library for other DVDs, but the main thing is the multiple avenues. That's the only way to be able watch as much as possible, and nearly anything you want to watch as possible.

Sorry you don't have a brick and mortar store, but I'll tell you, I'd rather not have one than have a Blockbuster nowadays. I've heard good things about other chains lately, like Family Video, but yeah, they're harder and harder to find, and I greatly miss that.

Unknown said...

In my thoughts, I really miss the personal touch that the old "brick and mortar" stores had. I've found some amazing things to watch on some of those forgotten, dusty back shelves. Also, some real stinkers!

David Baruffi said...

Yeah, those back shelfs are great. Luckily for me, I usually found more gems than stinkers, but yeah, the art of finding the gem is really a lost art.