SouthCoast VHS Rentals: Chain Stores or Mom-and-Pop Shops?
Sorry kids, but this is a question for the boomers, Gen Xers and maybe some of the older millennials out there: where did you prefer to rent your VHS tapes? Was it from a major chain like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video, or from a mom-and-pop rental shop?
It seems as though VHS is making a comeback lately, and it’s no surprise. Social media influencers are hyping up their virtues much in the way audiophiles have been saying for years how vinyl albums are superior to digital music.
There’s no doubt, watching a film on VHS has a different feel to it. The tracking adjustments, the analog sound, the lack of high definition on the screen. It’s a throwback sensibility that fascinates those who never experienced it the first time around, and brings about a blast of nostalgia for those that did.
Personally, I can go back to the early 1980s and renting Disney movies from the neighborhood convenience store on Videodisc, a format that saw movies on vinyl. Believe it or not, it worked, although not without its issues.
A few years later, we were renting both VCRs and the VHS tapes to play in them from the Curtis Mathes appliance store. Later, independent video stores started popping up, renting video cassettes. Each store only had a few copies of each title, and probably didn’t have much of a selection.
Later, the supermarket was the go-to place to rent movies. Grabbing a 99 cent video rental while also getting the weekly groceries was a tradition in my house growing up.
By the time I moved to Wareham in 1991, I’d be renting movies from locally-owned stores like Royal Video, Video Depot and Video Junction.
But within a few years, the independent video stores began closing up as the megastores like Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video began popping up across the SouthCoast.
Sure, they had dozens of copies of the latest releases, tons of back catalog, and lots of video games to rent as well. Yet they didn’t have the same feel as the mom-and-pop shops. Give me a dark, dingy video shop where the tapes seemed stuffed into every corner over the brightly-lit, overstocked and expansive chains any day.
New Bedford’s last independent video shop, Premier Video, closed down a few years ago and is now a men’s clothing store. But as VHS tapes are making a comeback, perhaps too will the video rental store.
I’m going to dig my VCR out of storage, run the head cleaner cassette through it, and get ready to be the first in line to get my rental card.