Like most children of the 90s, I spent countless hours roaming the halls of Blockbuster. I look back on that time in my life with very fond memories.
My parents got divorced when I was young, and I spent every weekend with my dad. On Saturday we watched movies. We did this every Saturday for a decade, and I never stopped going to the Blockbuster even as I got older. I was one of those dummies that spent all of his teenage money on DVDs. I was a sucker for the 2 for $20. No movie was below my line. Snakes on a Plane. Yep. The Ring 2. Sure, why not.
But just because I look back on this time and smile doesn’t mean I enjoyed it while it was happening. Our feelings change with the passage of time.
Blockbuster wasn’t fun.
Here’s what the experience was like. You walked around the perimeter, starting with the new section. Movies faced you, but you had no way of knowing if they actually were in stock. The one facing you could have four movies behind it, or if it was a hot new item, it likely had zero. And then you would walk to the counter and ask the dork if anybody returned Desperado. He would say no nine times out of ten, go to the screen, and let you know when the last one was rented, so that you knew when it was coming back. If you wanted, they could hold a copy for you. But you went there on a Saturday night looking for a movie to watch, so off you went to the dreaded innards.
Like a grocery store, the crap is in the middle. The junky movies in those aisles are lined up vertically with the spine out, so you would have to walk with your neck bent at a 45-degree angle to find a movie from the 80s that you didn’t see then and didn’t want to see now.
Walking around for 45 minutes only to settle on The Princess Bride for the 11th time, a great choice btw, really wasn’t fun. Neither was having to take out your Blockbuster card, paying late fees, or running into people you didn’t want to see.
You might disagree, but let me ask you this. Would you frequent Blockbuster today if it existed? People barely leave the house to see new movies! Netflix and its quarter trillion-dollar market cap tell you all you need to know.
I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I loved Blockbuster. It left me with good memories, but they’re good memories that sucked.
Ben and I spoke about this and much more on our latest episode of Animal Spirits