If you're as much of a movie buff as I am, your wallet is probably stuffed with half a dozen or more membership cards to different video stores. That's an awful lot of laminate to carry around, so I'm going to help you lessen the load by one. I want you to take that blue-and-gold Blockbuster card out right now and cut it in half.
Don't worry... Blockbuster is an extremely large, strong and profitable corporation. They can afford to lose a few hundred customers without breaking a sweat. It isn't like they're going to declare bankruptcy just because a few of us decide not to rent Ghost from them. But the independently owned mom-and-pop video stores need our help... and let's face it, for the true movie lover, the little guys offer a much better selection.
Admittedly, if all you're interested in are the latest new releases, Blockbuster has your local mom-and-pop beat hands down. There's no way an independent store can afford to stock dozens and dozens of copies of just one title. But it's quality that matters, not quantity. If you're looking for a classic foreign title from Janus or a sleazy B-movie from Gorgon or Wizard Video, good luck at your local Blockbuster. You can't even rent a copy of The Last Temptation of Christ there, much less 2000 Maniacs!
It's easy to identify the best independent video store in your area. It's the one that has a special section for employee recommendations. This section tells you immediately that the people who work here know and love movies. It's also the best way I know to connect with people with similar interests. I became friends with a clerk at my favorite store after we got to talking about science fiction movies when I saw he'd recommended Tron. We're now good friends and if not for that, we probably never would have met. I mean, it's not like there's some magic computer program that'll just tell you everyone in the world who likes the movie Tron (and even if there were, it probably wouldn't work because most people won't admit to even seeing Tron in the first place).
For a certain segment of the video-renting population, Blockbuster is just fine. But for those of us who really want to expand our horizons, it should always be the video store of last resort. The video rental industry is thriving and no doubt will continue to grow. After all, most of us will never be rich enough to actually own a home video library of more than a dozen or so of our favorite movies. But with a well-stocked independent video store, practically every movie ever made is right around the corner or no more than a few miles away and ours to watch as often as we like for as long as 72 hours! These are exciting times to be a movie fan. Just make sure your rental money is going to one of the good guys... and, as always, be kind. Rewind.
Dr. Adam Jahnke
The Analog Bits