Video rental stores and record shops have been a monthly if not weekly part of my life since I was a kid. I remember going to rent movies with my parents when I was a kid. When I was 17 I worked in a Blockbuster. I remember Blockbuster’s heyday, when every person I knew frequented the store on Friday nights to look for the latest movie release. I remember kids hitting the local record shop for the latest music album. I also remember when Blockbuster closed its doors.
The digital age has been reinventing how we are entertained. Instant gratification is now in demand. Everything is online, at our fingertips, and ready to be downloaded to our handheld devices and TVs. Over the years I have seen writing with pen and paper go out of style, no more letters in the mail, photographs not being printed, and film being replaced with digital media. I do love a lot about this new digital era, but I also am a bit old fashioned I guess, and I love the smell of books, I like the sound of pencil gliding over paper, the nostalgic sound of music recorded onto vinyl, and the look of movies when they were made on actual film. I remember working at the local movie theatre as a teen too. My favorite part of the job was working upstairs in the projection room, threading the filmstrip through a projector. I liked the clicking sound of it as it started up. One time I threaded a movie incorrectly and the movie looked like it was melting on the screen, and I had to run upstairs to stop the projector and splice the filmstrip to save what I could.
When people around the country were losing their Blockbusters and movie/music stores Boise, ID had Hastings. For the last 13 years that I have lived here I have been able to go to Hastings and rent movies, look for books and music. My 12 year old son has loved frequenting the store as a Friday night ritual, looking for movies, perusing books, video games, and music. When we heard that Hastings is closing, we decided to do a short, casual photo session. He is so excited to have these photos, memories of one his favorite stores.
Did I shoot them digitally, you bet I did, but I won’t let them just sit on my computer either. I am printing the photos for him to put in an album, so he can look back whenever he feels the desire to reminisce in the future.
The days of “be kind, please rewind” have long been over and soon DVDs will not be for sale as well. The excited feeling of standing in line waiting to check out with the new releases, if you were lucky enough to grab one before another shopper did, or going to the video wall only to discover they were all checked out and then asking the clerk if he had any copies in his retuned discs stash behind the counter, hoping to get lucky. The days of rummaging through old movies, or the special interest section, looking for something to watch, those days are gone too. Of course everything is online, and we can watch many things instantly now, no lines, we don’t even have to get dressed and leave the house, and if you can’t find something instantly, you can still find it for purchase and wait for it to be delivered through the mail.
Modern conveniences are awesome, but I will always love the smell of a book, the sound of a record playing, and miss the excitement of hitting up the rental store for a flick to watch. I will remember when I was dating my husband, and even after getting married, walking through the store, holding his hand, and talking about what to rent, or standing there with a movie in my hand and a perfect stranger comments on the movie, or looking over to see the person standing next to me mulling over whether or not to check out the movie in their hand, and they turn to ask if I have seen it, and we chat for a minute. There’s that too, holding the actual movie in my hand, looking at the actual covers for the movie. I loved picking up a movie, looking at the cover and photos, and reading the description on the back. It’s just not the same on Netflix, or Redbox, or any other online service. I will remember, even as present as my pregnancy this year, walking through the store, my hand rubbing my belly, not really feeling like taking my swollen, tired self to a movie theatre, so I would go check out a movie with my son and husband. Then of course there is always chatting with the cashier about whatever movie we decided on. It’s going to be different, gone, the human interaction, those little, sweet moments; replaced with instant gratification and less conversation.
It was fun to take one last stroll through Hastings with my son. It was quiet and I enjoyed snapping a few photos to capture memories for both of us. As we walked through the store, William stopped, put his hand on Clara’s head, I was wearing her in a wrap, and he said, “Clara won’t know what it’s like coming to a store like this. This is first and last time for her in a video shop mom, and she won’t even know it or remember it. Things will be so different for her when she is growing up.”
That’s just life, things change, and we all adapt, and move on to the next latest, greatest thing, but for some of us we will have memories of an era gone by. Video stores will become as nostalgic as drive -ins, and roller-skating rinks, and many other things that have become a part of the past.