If you grew up in the 1990’s you remember begging your parents to take you to the local Blockbuster Video every Friday night to rent a movie. On nothing more than a wing and a prayer, and you’re allowance money, you hope that one special movie is still on the shelf.
Pacing down the aisles your laminated membership card is getting sweatier and sweatier by the second in your palm. As you pray to everything holy there is a copy of that special movie left behind the Styrofoam stuffed VHS case you reach out to the shelf, hand trembling, you push the cardboard VHS case aside and… success! One white, blue, and yellow clamshell video case remains!
Don’t you miss those memories of stalking the horror aisle, breathing in the scent of the plastic VHS cases and paying $4.99 for a three day rental? Oh, and don’t forget that $0.99 charge for each day you’re late! Well lament no longer, fellow thirty-somethings! Your dreams of walking that royal blue musty carpet is just a hop, skip, and a jump away… in Alaska!
That’s right! There is still a Blockbuster Video alive and well in the Last Frontier of Anchorage, Alaska! While the franchise finished closing its doors to nearly 9,000 stores worldwide in 2013, franchise owner Alan Payne decided to keep his doors open. In fact, he owns nine Blockbuster Video stores of the twelve that remain today.
While most movie lovers get their flicks from an automated machine or download it online, video store owner Payne offers the experience many younglings born after 2000 will never get to experience. While the movies have no doubt moved over from VHS to DVD and Blu Ray, making the “Be Kind, Rewind” stickers obsolete, you can still physically browse the aisles and read the back of the cases to obtain the synopsis.
You can also enjoy the experience of candy, popcorn, and soda impulse buys in the line queue, as well as asking to keep the poster from the wall once it was taken down. I can’t be the only one who did this… am I? Not to mention embracing the feeling of disappointment when you find out they don’t have a copy of the movie you anticipated watching all day long. Yet hope can be restored as you quickly walk to the front of the store and ask the clerk if a customer has recently returned said movie, and perhaps they just haven’t had the chance to return it to its proper home on the shelf yet.
All jokes aside, the video stores in Alaska are a very important corner stone to the community. Unbeknownst to those who don’t reside in the snowy North, access to the Internet is quite expensive. Even though the prices seem expensive in comparison to your local Red Box, they are reasonable in comparison to the prices of gigabytes.
Another benefit is, as odd as it sounds, the video store serves as a place of gathering. In a place that has long, cold, and dark winters, it’s nice to have a place to go and socialize with other people. In fact, this is something we have lost as a culture when looking for videos. I can’t tell you how many times I spoke to other horror fans in the horror aisle and received great recommendations… as well as some not so great. I don’t know where you are Blockbuster Video patron, but I Still Know What you Did Last Summer is not a scary movie!