Many of us remember the weekend ritual that began with wandering the aisles of Blockbuster to pick out the movie — or two — you'd watch that night. Blockbuster opened in 1985 and became the seemingly invincible name in the VHS rental game, pushing out small mom-and-pop video stores. Its successes peaked in 2004, with more than 9,000 stores, but then DVDs came along, and Nextflix started shipping them straight to our mailboxes. Next thing you knew, we were all streaming or downloading new releases straight to our screens without ever leaving the couch. Now Blockbuster is the one getting left behind. After going bankrupt in 2010, the company announced this week that it will close the remainder of its US stores.
To close this chapter in the way we watched movies, let's rewind to the glory days of VHS with a look at the memories we could never tape over.
- Calling Blockbuster to make sure they had a copy of the new release you wanted.
- Wandering the new-release section aimlessly when they didn't have it.
- Jumping for joy when you found an out-of-stock movie you wanted in the return box.
- Going to Hollywood Video when you were really desperate to see a movie they didn't have at Blockbuster.
- The excitement of scoring a movie in the clearance section for $3, the same price of a rental.
- Memorizing the "Coming Soon" sign at the checkout line that displayed what movies would be in stock next week.
- Longing for some movie-theater candy in the Blockbuster checkout line.
- The rage you'd feel when you opened up the case at home only to find a different movie.
- The fun of watching a movie you rented for a second time the next morning.
- Having to rush back to the video store to return a one-day rental.
- Rolling your eyes when a previous costumer didn't rewind the rental you just picked up.
- Pressing rewind and going about your business until you heard the click.
- Dropping your movies in the return slot even when Blockbuster was open.
- Having to actually go in to return it when you owed a late fee.
- Renting movies that were so long, they took up two VHS tapes (we're looking at you, Titanic).
- Feeling like a real adult when you got your own Blockbuster card to put in your otherwise empty wallet.
- Setting up a recording for your favorite movie on your VCR before TiVo was invented.
- Recording movies off TV — commercials and all — and adding it to the collection of movies you "own."
- The anger felt after discovering someone changed the channel midrecording.
- How everything started to run together and look wonky when you taped over a VHS too many times.
- The wrath of your mom when you accidentally taped over a home movie.
- Memorizing the previews you had to fast-forward through on the VHS movies you owned.
- Bragging about your VHS collection, like how many Disney movies you had.