Send Us Your Best Stories About Going to the Video Store - Atlas Obscura

Send Us Your Best Stories About Going to the Video Store

The ritual of leaving the house to rent a movie has all but disappeared, but we can still rewind our memories.

Soon, video rental culture will live primarily in our memories.
Soon, video rental culture will live primarily in our memories. angelo Yap/CC BY 2.0

Like many a modern media consumer, I spend an embarrassing amount of time scrolling through my various streaming options on Netflix or Hulu or whatever. But I’m also old enough to remember a time when that same indecision played out across hour-and-a-half long trips to the video store.

With former video rental titan Blockbuster down to one final U.S. store in Bend, Oregon, physically strolling a rental library is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Smaller, specialty video stores do still operate in some places, but the once-ubiquitous experience of regular trips to rent physical videos is nearly obsolete. Before it fades from the cultural consciousness completely, we want to hear your favorite video store memories.

From the ages of about 7 to 15, one of the most important questions I was regularly faced with was whether to rent a new release or a trusted film I’d seen a million times. I’d often find myself in the video store, inhaling that pleasantly antiseptic scent of fresh plastic and magnetic tape, three or four titles in my hands, crippled with indecision. Eventually I’d begin slowly wandering the aisles, trying to avoid eye contact with my increasingly apoplectic mom, who just wanted me to pick something so we could leave. Usually I could hold out until she let me rent a new one and an old one (score!), and if I was extra lucky, she’d be so frustrated by my hemming and hawing, she wouldn’t even notice that one of them was rated R. My mom is the best, and I’m pretty sure I saw Hellraiser when I was about 10.

For many, visiting the video store was (or, depending on where you live in the world, still is) as much of an outing as actually watching the movies or playing the video games you pick up there. Fill out the form below to tell us about your personal favorite video store moment. We’ll collect our favorite submissions and publish them in an upcoming article. Also, if you have any relevant, original pictures of your favorite store, we’d love to see those too, so please send any you want to share to eric@atlasobscura.com, with the subject line, “Video Store Images.” We can’t rewind the past, but we can still preserve video store culture by sharing our memories about it.

If you have a favorite video store memory of your own to share, head over to our community forums and tell us about it!