Sunday, January 17, 2021

R.I.P. Family Video

Oh, 2021. We had such high hopes that somehow you'd turn out better than your bastard predecessor. Amazingly, even though you're barely two weeks old you've found a way to be even worse.

This week Family Video announced it was permanently closing its remaining 250 stores.

According to CEO Keith Hoogland, the decision to close was due to Covid (natch), as the nationwide lockdown caused an understandable lack of foot traffic in the company's various stores. The absence of any new movie releases was the final nail in the coffin, as even when the quarantine was lifted, there was nothing for customers to rent.

The death of Family Video definitely marks the sad end of an era. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but where I live they were the last video store in town!

I used to go to Family Video quite a bit— often once a week in fact. Unlike most of their clientele, I never actually rented any movies there, I bought them instead. Once a DVD or blu ray release was no longer considered "new," they'd sell it at a much reduced price. They usually started out at $10 or $12, but if one was patient they'd eventually get down to $3 bucks!

Most of their titles were big budget mainstream films, but they carried a ton of obscure B movies and direct-to-video fare as well. I built up quite an impressive library of movies thanks to Family Video. 

Then in 2016 I finally joined the 21st Century and bought a router and a Roku. This opened the vast new world of streaming to me, and I was able to access thousands and thousands of hours of movies and TV shows— far more than I'd ever be able to watch. And much of it for free!

As I began streaming more and more content, my visits to Family Video became more infrequent. There wasn't much point in buying a movie I'd only watch one time and have it take up room in my house when I could simply stream it. Eventually I stopped going to the store altogether. I haven't stepped foot inside one in at least three years. 

So even though I feel bad for the employees and hate to see the company go away, Family Video's demise won't affect my life much. 

Chalk them up as another casualty of our rapidly changing technology.

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