The video rental era is coming to a close as one of the last brick and mortar video rental chains, Family Video, will close all stores. This according to multiple media reports on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a report from Ozarks First, Family Video will be closing over 250 of their remaining locations starting today. They also quote from a Family Video press release that the company will sell off inventory and end a 43 year run of providing home entertainment.

While I was never a big video rental person, Family Video seems to have been with Kathy and I throughout much of our journey around the Midwest. Family Video was her family's video rental store throughout her teenage years. And I remember, when we were dating 25 years ago, we rented a bunch of movies while her brother and sister in law let us stay at their apartment for a long weekend while they were on vacation.

When I worked at the radio stations' in Kathy's hometown of Joliet, the Family Video always seemed to be looking for managers and had the salary posted on their sign. Every time my buddy Ryan and I went by that sign we always joked we'd make more money leaving radio and managing the Family Video.

And even 12 years ago with Netflix fully established, Family Video still seemed to be doing very well. We were in Indiana and Little Caesars Pizza shared it's building with the Family Video. And while unemployed and stuck in town, we bought a lot of Little Caesars. The Family Video was always busy.

If any chain could have survived I would have bet on Family Video. Their parent company, Highland Ventures, owns the strip malls the stores are in. And may very well own the pizza joint or one of the other establishments in the strip mall. For example, they own the ice and water kiosk in the parking lot of the store in Warrensburg.

But it seems at some point all good things must come to end. Back at the beginning of the video era. Before DVD's there were video cassettes. And in the very early 80's video cassettes were expensive to buy. Around $80 dollars. So pretty much, renting videos became a thing.

Eventually prices came down. And then DVD's hit and became ubiquitous. Video stores adapted to the changes. And even survived the days you could buy lots of DVD's from $10 -$20 dollars at Walmart or Best Buy. I guess you still can, at least online. Netflix really killed the video store with their ability to always keep customers supplied with DVD's they wanted to watch, no late fees, no due back by dates.

Streaming, that's the final nail in the coffin for the video store. It creates an opportunity, or at least the illusion of, being able to watch whatever you want to watch, when you want to watch it. No waiting for a DVD to show up in your mailbox, or having to go to the video store. Boom it's there. (Except for lots of films like "To Live And Die In L.A.", which you can't stream anywhere. But that's a post for another day.)

What I'll miss about Family Video is that little reminder about home. It's silly, but that little familiarity can mean a lot when you're in a new place surrounded by new things.

During the writing of this blog I attempted to find the press release from Highland Ventures announcing their closing. It seems that when the story broke, it broke their website. I found a copy of the announcement on their Facebook page. According to the announcement:"The impact of Covid-19, not only in foot traffic but also in the lack of movie releases, pushed us to the end of an era."  Not streaming as I surmise above. If you worked for Family Video or rented movies or games from them their touching goodbye letter is worth a read. 

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