Saturday, April 30, 2005

The vanishing video store

Entertainment is rapidly evolving to the demands of an on-demand world. We no longer buy CDs at music stores and rush home to listen to our new find. Instead, we download a few tracks, then listen to them immediately on our PC before dropping them into our iPods, where they will promptly be forgotten.

Renting movies will also head in this direction before too long. Online-only models are already starting to make their first halting Web-based moves, while hybrid services like Netflix are off to a fast start.

It's easy to see the appeal: no more trips to the video store. No more bumping into rude customers while you look for a watchable gem in the middle of what always seems to be a pathetic set of choices. No more stooping to see the almost-invisible selections that are placed on the shelves closest to the floor. No more late fees (OK, Blockbuster fixed that one, but...), surly, lip-pierced employees, overpriced snacks, and any other come-ons that make the video store such a maddening place to shop.

But when the cold, wet weather dried up enough earlier today for me to get the kids out of the house, a walk to the Rogers video store was just what our munchkins needed to get some air and get ready for a Saturday night at the movies at home.

They ran straight for the kids section as soon as they got through the door and excitedly compared notes over what they were going to get. Normally-rude customers smiled and gave them room as they bounced from one aisle to the other. They changed their minds at least half a dozen times before settling on their final two choices. Explaining to them that the Family Guy wasn't appropriate for kids - despite its innocuous cartoonish packaging - took longer than I expected.

After patiently waiting in line, they proudly handed their choices to the cashier and waited quietly for Dad to pay for it all. Absolutely worth it, I thought as I watched their little faces waiting for the cashier to hand back their newfound prizes.

As we started for home, a few light drops of rain threatened to make it a miserable trip. But the heavens held off as they carefully examined the movie boxes and spoke about how much they were looking forward to watching them. We arrived home ready for a pyjama party on the living room floor.

I'm not sure any download service could ever come close.

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