Its 5:50 pm
dusk and cold
As I sit here and listen to the wind howling outside my window,I decided it was a perfect time to say good-bye to my favorite movie hunting video chain,Family Video. I have been shopping at Family Video since late 2016. While the chain has been around my area for longer then I realized,it wasn’t until 2016 that I actually paid any attention to it.
When my wife Lori Ann and I moved to our new house,we had a Blockbuster a half mile away from our home. We really never went there a whole lot as we had cable TV and we also went to the movies once in a while.
The only time we went to Blockbusters was when they had a 4 for 20 sale which wasn’t very often. Looking back,I do recall seeing the Family Video store near our house but only because we had ordered pizza from Marco’s Pizza but we never went in the store. After 3 trips to Marco’s,we didn’t do that either as the last two pizzas were pretty nasty tasting. It was no surprise when we saw that Marco’s had closed its doors as well…..
Fast forward to 2016,life has completely changed which has been detailed here many times. In 2016 I was buying the few films I could find at Dollar Tree but that was way before they started doing their big sales. Once in a while they would get a few films and I would buy them regardless of what they were,I was just listening to them as white noise. I mentioned this to a co-worker and he suggested I should go to Family Video,I mentioned I wasn’t interested in renting,by this time I had cut cable as it was too expensive for me to maintain. He said that Family Video sold used copies of their rental films and I should check it out.
I am not sure how long it was before I went after that but I did go to the store about a mile away from my house. I remember that it was decently busy and I started to browse. The first thing that caught my attention were the prices.
Instead of 7.00 and up at Blockbusters,Family Video was seeling films for as low at 1.50. I don’t remember what I bought but I did buy 4-6 films. I went home and while I didn’t watch anything at first (I just put the movie on and puttered around the house). Then one day I put on a movie that Lori and I had really enjoyed together “Julie and Julia” and actually watched it.
It was the first BluRay I ever bought and I gave it to her as a Christmas gift. When I went and put it back in the film shelf,I saw my shelf for the first time and realized I had bought a few movies I had listened to but never watched. I was sort of surprised by this as I hadn’t realized just how many films I had picked up. And I hadn’t realized how many I had listened to but knew nothing about them.
When I decided to write reviews here on the blog,my 2nd review was the infamous “Seattle Superstorm” which I had picked up from Family Video and after I realized how much I liked doing reviews,I started becoming a regular at my Family Video.
It was here that I became a IFC/IFC Midnight fanatic,that I discovered so many new faces and found the film community I really loved. My love of indie film (thanks Ms. Kelly) allowed to take chances on so many indie films that Family Video carried.
When Family Video had a sale,it was always an event to celebrate as the prices were so good,the 10 for 10 sales was just an awesome way to build a quality collection. While the employee turnover in my early days was really bad- it seemed like there was always a new face behind the counter everytime I went in. But then I connected with my first employee whwn we talked about “V/H/S” and he told me that not only had they made a spin-off film called “SiREN”but that he would hold it for me when it came in. Sure enough,two weeks later I got my first of many calls telling of a movie that was going on sale and they were holding for me. Of course that day that I bought my film,my new friend let me know he was leaving to go to college.
Around this time,I discovered the four other Family Video stores in my area,including one only 4 miles away. I used to bounce between the two stores and slowly became friends with the staff who now seem to be staying in place much longer.
Good friends like Sean,Erich,Lindsey,Nikki and Ashley,who became an fellow IFC fanatic.
But the signs were there that FV was in trouble,you started hearing about stores closing as remaining stores started getting the closed store’s stock. The first crack near us was when the second and smaller Livonia store closed. No was surpised as the store was pretty isolated from any major shopping area,combined that with small store and poor stock and no,it wasn’t surprising.
What WAS surprising was the closure of my main store a couple of years ago…out of left field and I was at my secondary store when they got the news. By the time I drove over to the store,they were already pricing down….it was really surreal to say the least. After that,it just seemed every week that a store or stores were closing. When I started shopping at FV,they had 700 stores…..by the time the pandemic hit,they were closer to 400 stores abnd by the time the stores were repoened,they were down to 230 stores including the 3 stores in my area. Then the store now closest to me closed and after that happened,it just seemed just a matter of time. Again,the signs were there,without getting new major releases hitting the home market,they were reduced to handfuls of low budget releases and mostly of horror films. Combine that with new streaming only movies and the writing was on the wall and this month saw the end of the road for the last major video store chain in America. I made two last runs……of which I am posting on here.
I am thankful to good people I met there and whom we bonded with. It was a real pleasure and everytime I slide a FV film into the player I am reminded of the good times I had in those store.