The Video Store Days #14: Size Doesn't Matter

When it came to video stores, they came in every size possible. From huge stores like your local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to the small stores found in your local grocery store or gas station, the video store didn't need a lot of room to stock the films you were looking for.

The one thing that most people who were around for The Video Store Days forget is that video stores were everywhere and came in every size. Most people remember the big ones like Blockbuster and Hollywood and even the small Mom & Pop stores from their neighborhood, but there were so many more that people forget about.

I estimate that I have visited over 100 video stores during The Video Store Days and while I can’t remember each one of them, there are plenty that left a lasting impression.

Video stores didn’t need to take up a lot of room. That was one of the beauties of the industry. You could put a video store damn near anywhere and people would show up. The first video store that I ever visited occupied the first floor of a very small office building. The type of office building that had a travel agency on the very same floor as the video store, so you can see what type of room we are talking about. This store was very small, but it was packed to the gills with VHS tapes waiting for someone to come along and rent them. I was a kid when this store was around so my main reason for going there was the He-Man tapes. I was a huge He-Man fan and renting the tapes that contained four episodes at the most was a great thrill for me.

When All Video, the name of the video store I was just talking about, went out of business, we quickly found another. This one was called R&R Video and would be my main video store for some time. Their first store, located in a shopping plaza across the street from my house, was actually pretty big. I would say that it was a smaller version of what a normal Blockbuster store would be size-wise. This store had everything. They even rented out Laserdiscs. In fact, there were three video stores in my area that rented Laserdiscs, and two of them were in the town where I lived. 

Anyway, R&R Video was a great video store that used to space they had very wisely. They made sure that there was enough room for people to move around in without getting in anyone’s way as well as stocking as many videos that they could. 

R&R Video would move across the street, into a newly built strip mall as the one they were in was dying fast. This move allowed the store to have even more room which they put to good use by creating a play area for the kids and expanding their catalog section. This was during the 90’s when people would rent just about anything. I have watched people rent films that they knew they weren’t going to like because they needed something to watch over the weekend.

Now, these stores I have been talking about haven’t really been that small. No, these things got even smaller than that. There was a gas station near my house that I went to all the time to get snacks. One day I went there and found that they were now renting VHS tapes. I was friendly with the peope who owned the station and they told me that they wanted to see if this was going to be something that people would want to do. I, for one, said yes and began renting from them until they day they stopped a few years later. The gas station wasn’t that big, so for them to add a video rental section was a pretty ballsy move.station down the street from my house that I would frequent a few times a week for snacks. One day, I noticed that they replaced an entire aisle with VHS tapes. I asked what was going on and they told me they were renting films out. Needless to say but I rented there quite often until they stopped rentals a few years later. 

Now imagine your local gas station. Imagine if they took an entire aisle of product away and replaced them with dvds or blu-rays. It would be weird nowadays but it would actually be really cool if they did that today. That aisle could hold a ton of films and it wouldn't cost too much to keep it up. VHS tapes cost a lot more back then so there was more money in the line but it would be worth it if the community responded with patronage. 

One last one and we will call it a day.

My family took a vacation to northern Minnesota in the early 90s. We were renting a cabin and the brochure made the place look like very inviting and cozy. We packed up of stuff, hitched our boat to our minivan, and headed up there. When we got there, the place that had looked so good looked like it was ripped from a Friday the 13th film. The place was basic as hell and the cabins were not that inviting at all. Luckily I brought my VCR with to watch films that I owned. (Why we stayed is a very long story)

We went into town that first day and did some grocery shopping. While at the store, I saw that they rented out VHS tapes. My mother asked if we could rent from them and they said yes. Everyday of the week we went into town and rented a bunch of films. It was the worst vacation I have ever been on but the grocery store video store made it a bit more bearable.

So, while size matters for something's, it never really mattered when it came to video stores. Some of the best video stores I have ever visited were small in size but they carried so much. So, the next time you find a video store (good luck with that, honestly) go in and check it out. You may find something you never knew you were looking for.

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