The Last Video Store

Since moving back to my hometown, I often drive by what used to be Hollywood Video on Highway 61. Right before that is the Blockbuster Video where I worked for over a year right after college. Immediately I am stricken with nostalgia, remembering the Friday nights where my family would often go out to eat, and then stop by the video store to get a game or a movie. I loved the unknown of the video store, not sure what they would have in stock, but hoping for something good. Hollywood Video in particular had an excellent kung fu selection, and was where I learned to love Jet Li's extensive repertoire, particularly this one:

I lament the loss of these stores, and even more so the experience my kids will never have! Downloading digital copies or streaming movies just isn't the same, and removes the element of the unknown that is so exciting and in-the-moment! Of course this is a concept that we will become more and more familiar with, as Amazon Prime, rampant free two-day shipping and telecommuting are making leaving our home almost unnecessary. Eventually the act of going out to buy or rent anything may disappear, but until then, I can hold on to the treasures of my past.

But then one glorious day it occurred to me that there is one more video store in town. And what is even better is that it's free! The public library!

Our libraries may not have the most recent releases (for that you'll have to use Red Box, though I often find that whenever I rent a Red Box movie, it shows up on Netflix about a month later anyway...), but they have an excellent selection of movies that are recent enough to stay relevant. How many movies are on your watch list, ones you never got around to seeing or maybe missed in theaters? I mean, going out to the movies costs so much these days that you can't see everything you want to (at least I can't). And so this final remaining haven of video is the answer to my lofty prayers. Free movies, up to seven at a time, and so many titles that I missed all these long years of being cheap. It's brought back to life movie-watching magic for our family.

We were lucky to find that Frozen. It's usually checked out!

Maybe you can tell from that picture that I am going alphabetically until I find something I wanted to watch (or think the family will enjoy -- Frozen the alphabetical exception in this set). I usually have only a few precious moments to decide, with kids running around the "quiet" library while I choose, and so quick decisions must be made. Still, these are films I wanted to catch and now have the opportunity to do so.

So I encourage you: take your kids to your local library and show them what it was like to pick movies when we were young. Save money you may have spent on Red Box and order a pizza instead for a family movie night. Now if only they had video games and VHS...