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Is the Grass Redder on the Other Box?

Originally posted Feb. 2, 2017 @

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So you’re up for watching a movie or two, and you can’t find anything on Netflix that grabs your attention. You’d like to see something newer, but you don’t feel like going to the theater. “On Demand” is convenient, but it’s also a bit salty at $5.99 a flick. 

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So where are you? Right where I found myself last week. Yup……..headed to see this guy: 

Other than the regional anomaly that is “Family Video,” Redbox is today’s answer for leaving the house to go rent a movie. It wasn’t always this way. 

For those of you old enough to remember, the first video stores in our area (such as Video Movie Center and Curtis Mathis) were not only places where you rented videos, you could also rent or buy a Betamax or VHS system. 

From here things grew into fully-dedicated video rental stores. History now calls them the “Mom & Pop” stores of the video rental industry. 

On the southside of South Bend we had the likes of B&B Video, Video 43, and my personal favorite…………South Side Video! This place was a true “Mom & Pop” store. In the early days they typically had two copies of each movie…..VHS and Beta. Later on they would start investing in 2 to 3 copies for your big blockbusters such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or whatever new Stallone flick was coming out. The place wasn’t just quaint, it was neighborhood. One time they called our house looking for my brother Jeff’s buddy Jim. Seems someone had reserved “the” copy of a certain film for that evening and Jim had yet to return it. Yes, they not only knew you, they even knew who your friends were. Take that Facebook. South Side Video was tracking folks back in the ’80’s!!!! 

Eventually the Mom & Pops gave way to the rental Goliaths of the time, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Some Mom & Pops soldiered on for several more years, primarily off the sales of their “Adult” film rentals. No place was more notorious for this than Quick Video. There would be 15 cars in the lot, but when you walked into the store there was one middle-aged woman renting the latest Julia Roberts love story, and one 12-year-old kid renting a video game. Of  course there were a dozen guys packed into the small room on the other side of the saloon doors looking for the latest cinematic release from the likes of Peter North, not Peter Fonda! 

In time the Goliaths were slaughtered as well. Most people blame Netflix, Redbox, On Demand, and Internet piracy for their ruination. Though that’s mostly true, mismanagement played its part. I had two Blockbusters and Hollywood Videos less than five minutes from my house. 3 Blockbusters within 10 minutes. Probably a half-dozen 15 minutes away. They grew too fast. They over saturated the market. The overhead alone was a killer.

So hey look……………..I like progress. CDs and DVDs/Blue Rays are/were better than cassettes. Digital is better than both. There was a time when my shelves of CDs took up half a wall in my house…….now my music collection is on my phone. I get it folks. I do. 

Yet sometimes, yes sometimes………..I sure do miss heading over to the video store, in a climate-controlled environment, where I can take my sweet time, check out both new and old titles, rent ’em, bring ’em back, and do it again. Whether it be the nostalgic memories of the Mom & Pops, or later on at the larger rental stores, the video store renting experience is an experience I truly miss. 



Yes, my very own authentic, pristine, So. Side Video Frisbee!!!! I doubt the phone # works anymore!

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