The Decline of Blockbuster Video

I hadn’t visited a Blockbuster Video store in a long time. I decided to check out a local one this week. Good grief! Wha’ happen? While there are dozens of copies of current releases, the “deep catalog” has gone to shit. There was no foreign film section. No section devoted to music. No documentary section. There was a Special Interest section that had a handful of things like Winged Migration and The Song Remains the Same and a few Wrestling DVDs, but little else. Worst of all, when I inquired about the missing Sci-Fi section, I was told that the science fiction films had been absorbed into the Action catagory!! 2001: A Space Odyssey is now in the Action category!

Overall, very slim pickings. Are all the stores nationwide this lame?

Just skimming your post, and YES. We tried looking for older videos, and were told they no longer carry it. Another reason for (and what sent my family towards) Netflix.

I dumped Blockbuster about 5-6 years ago. At that time they started a new rental plan: new releases - 2 days, videogames - 3 days, and older releases - 5 days.

After the wife and kids rented a variety of said items and paying numerous late fees because we couldn’t co-ordinate the return times, I said “screw this”.

I’ve been going to Hollywood Video ever since. Thankfully, the Blockbuster takeover attempt failed.

I’d think that not only would Netflix be hurting their overall business, but that it would be especially bad for people who would rent the obscure titles. Netflix has ALL the obscure stuff, with stuff you didn’t even know existed, and will make recommendations.

If stuff doesn’t move, you don’t keep it on the shelves.

Yeah, Blockbuster sucks. I’ve gone several times this past year to several different locations in different towns when I or a friend had coupons or a gift certificate there, and they all equally are bad.

I pretty much only rent movies at Hastings, where while the new releases cost about the same as Blockbuster, the non- new releases (which I usually get) cost 1.99 on DVD or .99 on video, compared to I think $2.99 at Blockbuster. And Hastings actually has most of the older movies I’d like to see, compared to Blockbuster with pratically nothing.

They died in Hong Kong just a while ago. For the price of a new rental you could get a DVD on the street - am not suprised, really, only annoyed, since that particular street was about thirty minutes away by bus, and the Blockbuster was right across the street from where I lived.

My last visit to Blockbuster was when I was doing a favor for an acquaintance. She asked me to rent Animal House from Blockbuster. It wasn’t on the shelf. I asked the teenager at the counter, and was told that the store didn’t carry it at all! I couldn’t believe it. I was told that they were a small store, and so didn’t carry many “old movies.”

Several months later, I got talking to a girl at an unrelated event, and it turns out that she was the one working that day. She told me that I had been so incredulous that they hadn’t had it that she asked her manager about it. He told her that it was something that they normally carried, but that their copy had been damaged and marked out of stock, and they would be getting a new one shortly. Meanwhile, I had been walking around thinking that Blockbuster didn’t think Animal House was worth carrying. And I’d still think that if not for a bunch of random events that led me into conversation with this girl. And if the girl hadn’t been motivated/curious enough to actually ask her manager about it. Apparently the system didn’t allow for movies to be labeled as “temporarily unavailable” or whatever. Anyhow, you could chalk this all up to an isolated weird incident, but because of the low opinion I had of Blockbuster anyway, I was all too willing to believe that they really didn’t stock Animal House.

So, one of the reasons that Blockbuster is declining is that people have come to doubt that they will have what they are looking for. And with good reason. Unless you rent only new releases, you probably won’t be happy making Blockbuster your main video source. You’ll find another store, or Netflix, or other source where you can get both new releases and whatever genre stuff you happen to be into.

I’ve noticed that Blockbuster seems to be hit or miss a lot of the time. The game selection is always variable, and the movie selection is a crapshoot.

For example, the Blockbuster next to campus here in town has a huge game and DVD selection, and it’s pretty well spread over the past 10 years of movies. By comparison, the Blockbuster in my hometown has WWF tapes from 1983 but not Mallrats or Clerks.

Allow me to voice my support of blockbuster.

In store, the selection is terrible. But’s online service now rivals that of netflix. NOT ONLY that but it’s cheaper than netflix AND you get two free in store game or movie rentals a month (you need to have a printer to print the coupons.) I used to use netflix but a lot of the DVD’s started coming damaged. Sure they replace it, but it’s more waiting. With blockbuster, most of the dvd’s mailed to me have been in pristine condition. So as a person who has used netflix, I recommend switching to blockbuster. :slight_smile:

I dropped Blockbuster when I kept forgetting my card at home and paying huge fees to rent movies. The corner video store, Videoflicks, lets me rent two old movies for $4, for three nights.

Blockbuster always sucked. I remember the first time I went in looking for “A Christmas Story.”

The clerk had never heard of it. :rolleyes: He looked it up and they couldn’t find it.

I went across the street to the local video store and asked for “A Christmas Story.” The clerk’s eyes lit up. “Great film.”

Blockbuster was great if you wanted the new releases and nothing else. Its selection of older films was pathetic.

I think that is on purpose. Blockbuster seems to have made a business decision to concentrate on new releases. There are plenty of people who pretty well only rent new stuff.

My local blockbuster is always busy. They have to be making a pretty good buck, so I think it’s not such a bad move.

Blockbuster’s corporate philosophy has always seemed to be, “we don’t need to worry about customer service or satisfaction, we’ll just drive out the competition and they’ll have to come to us when we’re the only store in town.” So when online rental services like Netflix began outflanking Blockbuster, they had no resevior of goodwill to count on.

Blockbuster does suck. You know how much it last cost me to rent a game? $7.50! Almost maxed out my gift card! You can almost buy a game for $7.50 nowadays. Nuts to them. I won’t be going back unless I have a very good reason to.

Quite frankly, I gave up on Blockbuster a couple of years ago. The truth was I didn’t really have anything against the store other than the fact that I didn’t like it’s decore. Yeah, I said it, I didn’t like the way the store looked. It was too bright, the colors it used were clashing.
That and the fact that a sister of a former girlfriend was working there. The relationship ended badly so standing in line and being served by her were just plain uncomfortable.
Lastly, and most leastly, I did not like the Blockbuster policy that states that a mojority of movies they rent have to be in fullscreen format. Fullscream format is the format for those who do not know better.
I found another video store not far from my home. It has a nice warm decore that is plesant to be in. No sisters of ex-girlfriends and best of all widescreen movies.

Another online rental service people might be interested in is which specializes in harder-to-find videos. Personally, I wasn’t too impressed by their selection - my personal video collection is better than theirs in some categories.

We fired Blockbuster several years back due to the incompetence of their staff.

First they tried to charge me for a late fee on a video I returned on time. It was due at noon on Wednesday; I knew for a fact that I turned it in on Tuesday evening, as I turned it in just after teaching a class that I taught only on Tuesday nights.

They took my word on it, so I let it slide.

Then, a year or so later, my husband was late in returning a video game. That’s fine; it was his fault. They notified us it was overdue; my husband dropped it off the next day. Their staff never marked it as being returned, so then they had their collections agent send me a letter saying that we owed them $65 for the cost of replacing the game, plus the late fee.

I went through the roof, and told them there was no way in hell I’d pay for a game their staff lost. I was more than willing to pay the late fee, but I would not pay for their incompetence. They turned me over to a manager with a snide voice that managed to imply the whole time that I was obviously lying about the whole matter, but they would be willing to suffer the loss, and only charge me the late fee. That was settled.

Then I got the letter again. It seems Mr. Snide Manager didn’t bother to put any record of our conversation in the system. Fortunately I saved all the paperwork.

So, the last time I set foot in a Blockbuster was when I went in to show them my receipt, tell them I’d better not hear from them again, and asked them to delete our account from their system.

Now I get Blockbuster promotions in the mail addressed to “Firstname YWalker Delete”

One of the reasons I never want to leave Austin is a store called I Love Video. They have a fair amount of everything. A few shelves of new releases (not just ‘blockbuster new releases’ at that), but 90 % ‘old’ movies, classics, a director’s wall, a large foreign section, cult classics, cartoons, indie, anime, and a plethora of things I would never watch but sure are interesting to see missing from the shelf. Not to brag or anything, but I generally leave the store wanting more.

I’ve walked out of a blockbuster empty-handed for general lack of interest way too many times.

The problem, IMHO, is that the franchise has been steadily losing the advantages that propelled it to greatness. There was a time when $3.50 to rent an NES game that could sell for $50 retail was a huge deal. There was a time when hundreds of titles spanning nearly a century of filmmaking was unthinkable. There was a time when the very idea of a movie place in every city, every county, every neighborhood (no kidding; my little rinky-dink town has two of them) was incredible. Oh yeah, and there was a time when the Internet didn’t yet exist (as hard as it is to believe now).

A game rental now costs $7.50. Some very good used games go for under $15, and more than a few for $7 or less. Used games are everywhere now; nobody with half a brain pays $50 anymore. Virtually all the anthologies have been gutted (including Rocky, which is why I have to watch them, cuts and all, on ESPN Classic). Any long-running sports/entertainment series is a spotty mishmash (damn, I wish I’d taken out Ultimate Fighting Championship 2 while they still had it!). Let’s not forget all the unexpected competition, who entered ambitious and hungry and is really giving BV a run for its money.

It’ll hang around for a long time, almost certainly as long as its alive, but it’s definitely no longer the undisputed top dog. I wouldn’t be surprised if it converted to an all-new releases at some point.