Normally when we want to rent a movie we go to the very good local Black Dog Video, but the neighborhood also has a Blockbuster which gets the occasional visit because it’s handy to a big grocery store. I despise, loathe, revile, the place; a few notes on why and what that might mean for retail in general.
The lights are violently bright, the colours are garish, and there’s always a movie promo blaring away. A huge part of the shelf space is consumed by incredibly-lame titles, no-hopers, total crap. The selection overall is not large and it’s hard to find anything you might actually want to watch, and when you do, chances are they actually don’t have it anyhow. It boggles my mind how much of the display area is consumed by stuff that you can’t spend money on even if you wanted to. After maybe five minutes in the place my nerves are jangling and the only thing in the world I want is to get out.
On the rare occasions I drop by I leave without picking anything up at least 50% of the time; then, if a movie is called for, drive the ten blocks to Black Dog, where’s there’s nice subdued lighting, good music on the system, and good movies on the shelves. Best of all, they have a substantial Staff Picks section, where these people who are total movie geeks assemble what they think is good for dabblers like us.
How Bookstores Used to Be · I’ve seen this movie before. Back before the rise of the mega-bookstores (Chapters in Canada, Borders in the States), there used to be two ways to buy books. If you were lucky, there would be a well-stocked pleasant locally-owned bookstore. Failing that, you went to the chain outlet at the mall, which had violently unpleasant lighting, cramped aisles, and lousy selection. More or less exactly like today’s chain video outlet. One way or another, aggressive unpleasantness can’t possibly work in the retail business in the long run. Can it?