There was a time, in the primitive era before Netflix and streaming video, when Blockbuster Video provided its customers with a portal to a whole world of amusement and entertainment, with shelf after shelf of music and games just begging to be rented. The local Blockbuster wasn’t just a place to get movies, though. It was a community center, a place to hang with like-minded cineastes. People may think that Blockbuster and other purveyors of physical media are completely extinct in 2016, but it’s not entirely true. A few hardy survivors managed to weather the storm and stay alive well into the 2010s. Nostalgia-naut Chris Stuckman recently visited one such Blockbuster Video in Indiana for an episode of his web series, Retro Rewind. Stuckman can hardly believe his luck in discovering the place within driving distance of his home: “Oh my gosh! I feel like I’m in 1999!”
Once inside the store, located at the end of a strip mall called the Rochester Plaza, Stuckman finds that this Blockbuster location has not changed much since the heyday of the rental industry. He walks the aisles like someone who has just stepped out of a time machine into another age. There, just like before, are all the shelves of DVDs and games, as if no time has gone by. A sign with the familiar, blue-and-yellow Blockbuster logo, designed to look like an oversized movie ticket, still hangs proudly on the wall. To supplement the video, Stuckman also visits a defunct Hollywood Video as well as a decommissioned Blockbuster location, recognizable only by its quick-drop slot on the front wall. There is also some discussion of the Family Video chain and its continued existence in East Coast states. For Stuckman, who was introduced to Japanese animation at his local Blockbuster, this was clearly a very personal journey. “Video rental stores are still pretty cool,” he concludes.