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I come from a fairly small suburban town in Massachusetts, where we do our best to support local business. Growing up my family and I would make weekend trips to our locally owned video store, Advanced Video. I have fond memories of making weekend trips there to pick out a movie and getting lost in the various nooks and crannies of the store as I browsed the comedy section. Sadly this store eventually closed shortly after my 13th birthday and we had to settle for the corporate alternative Blockbuster. Then when I came home for Thanksgiving Break I was astonished to find that Blockbuster was finally going out of business. I pulled up to the store and its windows were littered with large “Clearance” and “Sales” signs that were visible from the main road. Naturally I went in and as I was browsing the isles for bargains I started to wonder, “What could have brought this corporate giant to a close after being in business for so many years?” Then it hit me, Netflix was behind it. Netflix is an online DVD and Blu-ray Disc rental service, offering flat rate rental-by-mail and online streaming in the United States. Netflix appeals to its customers with their low rates, convenience, and wide selection of movies.  This is an issue around the country as Netflix is slowly becoming the norm, making local video stores and even the corporate giant Blockbuster obsolete.

Netflix may be the growing norm, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that going to your local video store is a lot more beneficial to both you and your community. By going to a local store you are paying for a friendlier atmosphere and employees who are cinematically knowledgeable and who offer better customer service than their counterparts. When you go to a store in your town you also develop a relationship with the workers, opposed to renting a video online where you interact with a computer and a series of phone tellers when you ask for customer service. Local employees will also offer personalized movie recommendations when you’re not quite sure what to get and help you find any movie you may have in mind, a service that does not come with Netflix.

Renting a movie is also supposed to be an experience in itself. When you go to the store there’s a whole process that comes with renting a movie, by simply clicking a button you miss out on this. When you go to the store you get to browse all the different isles for the perfect movie, buy movie snacks such as popcorn and soda to accompany the film, and debate with your company over which movie to finally rent. In a way it’s a bonding experience. By clicking a button you really don’t get the full movie experience that you would from going to a local store.

Finally by going to your local video store you are putting money back into your local economy. Many organizations have been established around the very idea of spending locally, such as Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture that was established in Massachusetts whose focus is on buying produce from local farmers. When you rent a movie online it maybe inexpensive and convenient, but where does that money actually go? When you support local businesses your money stays within your community and helps to keep it financially stable, where as if you spent your money on a corporation you would be taking business away from local stores, potentially increasing unemployment rates. We have to remember too that the people that work at these stores are our neighbors and friends; they are members of our community. In spending your money on Netflix and similar corporations you may be driving your neighbors and friends out of business.

Netflix is slowly taking over the video renting market leaving little room for the small locally owned stores that we once grew up on to thrive. By supporting corporations like Netflix (which may save you a few bucks initially) you are hurting your local economy/ local businesses and potentially increasing the unemployment rate in your own town. Renting a movie should be an experience that you can enjoy with friends and family while stimulating the local economy, not a simple *Click* *Click* Done. If we don’t start supporting our local businesses now we will start to see a lot more stores closing in our communities, and not just video stores like Advanced Video and Blockbuster.

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3 Comments

  1. I think you really have something with this post nate. I have always been a fan of the local video stores and have always hated large conglomerates like Blockbuster. I had a similar relationship with my local video store like you and witnessed it go out of buisness as well. Blockbuster came in and destroyed local video stores by having every video and video game plus lower prices. I liked the large selection but would rather support a small business then get the selection of every movie out. The funniest thing is that now Blockbuster is experiencing the same thing that local video stores once did. WIth Netflix and redbox now Blockbuster is experiencing the same thing as the local video stores. I do not hate netflix as much as blockbuster but you are right that we should not be dealing with machines and people over the phone all the time. Netflix is a good company but we should be dealing with actual people. We would support our local economy and our friends by taking our buisness not just with movies but with everything to our local town. Everything is starting to get nationalized by these huge companies and its depressing. I support your call for small town businesses nate.

  2. This is a really interesting post. I had considered this topic when in my town our local Big M got taken over by a Save a Lot, which was just offensive in comparison. I must admit though, my family is definitely one of the proponents of netflix. We signed on pretty early i think because we had to go to the next town over in order to rent a video for the night, which was not an easy task, also, the whole invention of “no late fees” and keeping it for as long as you needed was a very attractive feature to most American families who are becoming increasingly busy and each member has their own very unique schedules. Add to that Netflix’s recent addition of the ability to stream movies online and watch immediately on a computer at home.

    I assume that that the addition of this to combat the popularity of iTunes and their rental as well as immediate purchase of television shows and movies online to download immediately. This shows to me that yes, although local businesses are going under it is because of the high rates of competition among these big organizations, all vying for the same customers money. Blockbuster, Netflix, and the iTunes store all have similar clients, but throw Hulu into he mix, and the three bug organizations that charge are suddenly competing with an entirely new obstacle- someone providing the same, or very similar services, but free of charge. This competition is what keeps prices low for these services. While i agree with you that it is a shame that local businesses are being put out of business by it,and that it may be harmful to the community in the long run as many companies become, are bought out by, or just lose their customers to large corporations, it is because the products have become more accessible using the newest technologies,which are mostly available to the larger corporations.

    I was drawn to this post for that very reason, i believe that if a better way to do something has come along, it should be replaces, and that the community will adapt and continue on, often appreciating the new way of doing things as it is often more efficient and, in this situation, more likely has a larger selection of titles to choose from.

    Obviously you have a connection to this problem in your town, as these video stores that are shutting down near you, and can connect to these video stores. I have very little connection to these stores, and as i was always a bit aggrivated about how far the rental store was from my house, therefore when my family got a netflix account, my life became easier.

  3. This title of this blog, “The Death of the Local Video Store”, was the first thing that made me want to read the post. I wanted to know what Nate was writing about because of the interesting title! After reading it, I completely agree with Nate. I have heard that the Blockbuster Company is suffering due to its rival Netflix, but I had no idea how important local video stores are to a community. I like the fact that Nate goes into detail about the sad effects that large chain retailers have on small, privately owned businesses. In my town, Orchard Park, we have signs in all of the doors of family owned businesses that say “shOP”, as in “Shop in OP”. I have always frequented these retailers instead of Wal-Mart and other chains, but I do shop at BlockBuster for my movies.
    I like how Nate not only mentions the lack of capitol that small businesses are earning, but also the lack of personality and communication that is starting to becoming common with purchasing movies. It seems to me as if everything is becoming available without even talking to a human. The necessities to human life; food, clothing, shelter, love, and even movies can be purchased by sitting behind a computer or iPhone. There is no need to communication with humans anymore, as Nate stated. Netflix will ship your selected movies with the click of a mouse, but what is the fun in that? I also enjoy browsing the tall shelves at BlockBuster and discussing movies with the employees there. I do not plan on ever using Netflix for this sole reason! I also want local video stores to thrive, because Nate is right, instead of your money going into the hands of a CEO for a large cooperation, it goes back into the community and helps other stores thrive as well. Good arguments Nate!


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