Sunday, November 21, 2010
As video rental stores sink slowly in the west...
There's kind of a downside to having a home-based business.
Not that I'm real big on social conversing -- it's low on my list of enjoyable activities, below washing dishes. Honest. But when you work at home, you really don't want to use the 'net for everything. It's nice to see a human being on occasion, in, you know, actual stores. It's nice to know our shopkeepers and have them know us, and it's nice to have a town of active businesses, instead of a town of empty storefronts and jobless locals.
So we make our weekly rounds. We've become friends with the people who work at the post office. They know us at the grocery store, and do nice things like honoring my discount coupon, good only on an order of $75 or more, even though my total came up $1.73 short of eligibility. And they know us at the diner and bring me a diet cola as soon as they see me come through the door. Yes, at breakfast.
And we rent videos the prehistoric way. We've been regulars at the nearest walk-in stores.
That's "stores," plural, because they keep folding. We make video rentals part of our regular errand run, and the store closes. I mean, with no notice; we show up and it's an empty room with several dvds lying under the return slot on carpeting imprinted with vanished fixtures, a Chik-Fil-A cup abandoned on an empty shelf, and a Dear John letter on the door.
So we feed our dvds into the return slot to join the forlorn pile on the floor, drive to the next nearest place and become regulars there. Then that one tanks. We're on our third one.
It's weird to get nostalgic about a company like Blockbuster, but we've enjoyed it. I like the staff, and get some good ideas and suggestions from them, and yak with them about our cats and their car trouble and so on.
Blockbuster used to give us one-week rentals. That was nice. Then they cut it to 5 days. That's a pain, but basically still means a once-a-week trip, so we adjusted.
Today, we got there to discover that they've switched to 3-day rentals.
Not that 8 miles is an arduous drive, or that much of a fuel economy burden. But we NEVER go that route for any other reason, and there are a bunch of [%$@#!]ing traffic lights to wait at, and that just tore it. The new 99-cent rentals are swell for somebody, but little in that category appealed to us, and engineering our own 5-day rental period by incurring dollar-a-day "late fees" means a [%$@#!]ing automated "reminder" phone call each day, and adds up too fast if you take home more than one.
So. It looks like I'll be following the rest of the human herd to Netflix. I wrote BB to tell them so. Their stores are "competing" with the convenience of the internet/mail order providers by making store use as INconvenient as possible, which makes no sense. I told them that, too. Likely, they want to stop serving through stores and ferry us all into their own net service, but why keep spending money to make the stores less competitive??
Anyway, I guess my BB card will now join my collection of defunct cards.