Blockbuster reports steep drop in earnings: Does anyone visit a video store any more?

blockbusterrip_lWhere do you get your home video fix for movies and TV series? On demand? iTunes? NetFlix? At a Redbox kiosk? Whatever your answer, it’s becoming less and less likely that you’re renting them from Blockbuster video. The company, which still relies heavily on old-school retail outlets, announced yesterday that its third quarter earnings had dropped 21 percent to $910.5 million. It already closed 216 stores last quarter and expects to close 115 more this quarter.

The local Blockbuster was a family staple for me, growing up in suburban New Jersey, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been in one. Every time I walk by a Blockbuster and look in the window, I’m reminded of one of those gargantuan chain drug stores, with its over-bright neon lights and overwhelming displays. The problem is, no matter how unpleasant the shopping experience, there are still plenty of things people need to buy in a drug store — these days, with all the options available to us, there’s no reason at all to shop at a Blockbuster. Still, I started doing something recently that is either kind of radical or just self-indulgent: Going to my local mom-and-pop video store. (Hey, Get Reel Video!) I was catching up finally on the first season of True Blood, and instead of downloading episodes from iTunes, I found myself taking the short walk to the corner store when I was ready for another disc. I like the small space, neatly stuffed with titles; the quirky staff picks; and the quick chat with the checkout person as I paid. I’m not going to do that all the time now — iTunes and NetFlix are just too easy — but it did make me wonder if there’s a space for local video stores now that there wasn’t in Blockbuster’s block-busting heyday. What do you think? Am I just being nostalgic?

Photo Credit: Grave: Daniel Smith/zefa/Corbis

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  • CML

    IMO, the only reason to visit a Blockbuster is to rent video games. GameFly just isn’t as speedy as Netflix and has a limited selection.

    • paige

      GameFly isnt speedy AT ALL!

      • Kneel Patrick Harass

        I have both Netflix and GameFly and I usually return my movies and games on the same day at the post office. It’s not even funny the difference between the speed of delivery between Netflix and Gamefly. With Netflix I’m always delighted to see my movies turn up two days after I’ve made my returns. But with Gamefly, I’m always pulling my hair out waiting, checking their online site to see if they’ve even received my returns yet! Once it took them 5 days to even acknowledge that I sent a game in, then another 3 days after that to ship another! It’s absurd.


        Wow. They always get mine the day after I send it. I’m on the 1 movie at a time plan and can milk out 2 discs per week if I plan it around the mail correctly.

    • Sadly….

      I’m the same way. I only go to Blockbuster to rent videogames and maybe rent a new release movie if Netflix is backed up.
      Netflix isn’t reliable with (new release) TV series, either. I’ve been waiting for Disc 2 of Dexter Season 3 for nearly 2 months!

    • Kneel Patrick Harass

      Here, here, Gamefly is HORRIBLE if you don’t live in one of the four cities that their mailing centers are located in. And even then it’s questionable how fast their service is.

      Not only that but it’s nigh impossible to rent newly released games from GameFly. They just don’t have them available. I don’t know who gets first dibs on the new releases there, but it’s certainly not me.

      The only good thing about Blockbuster is that if you go to one of their stores on the release date of a new game, you have a pretty good chance of being able to rent it.

      However, they’ve just recently terminated their grace period for people returning games after the 5-day period. Now it’s a dollar late fee for each day late. At least with GameFly you can keep a game as long as you’d like.

  • paige

    I was never a Blockbuster fan… I grew up with a mom and pop video store and I loved it… but as I grew older Blockbuster took over all the mom & pops in my neighborhood and I hated it because Blockbuster was always crap. Too many of the same videos and none I was looking for. The people that worked there knew nothing and the prices were ridiculous (still are)… now I do netflix and i am eagerly awaiting the full demise of Blockbuster…

  • Laura

    The reason why Blockbuster is losing so much money is because they continue to charge hefty prices for their movies. I went into one not long ago, and they were charging almost $6 for a new release. For $9.99, I can get about 6 movies a month from Netflix – not counting the ones I can download straight to my computer or Blu-Ray player. So why on earth would I pay so much money just for one movie??? Silly, greedy Blockbuster is digging its own grave.

  • Sarah

    Redbox, please.

  • Jess

    I have to agree with the others’ opinions. Blockbuster is greedy, inconvenient and their dvds are in horrible condition. Netflix is inexpensive, their customer service is great and there are no late charges. I have to say I’m not sad that Blockbuster is sinking at all.

  • austin t

    As a former employee of Blockbuster that makes me sad. Yes their prices are hefty but been able to keep your movie for a week after your due date is done with is a nice way of avoiding late fees. And nothing can beat the actual experience of going to a video store and looking at all the selections.

    • b

      They only started doing that after Netflix started taking their customers. It was just too late by the time they made that change, too many of us left because of their ridiculous late fees.

    • Kneel Patrick Harass

      Sorry but they’ve just recently terminated that grace period for video games. Now you’re charged an extra dollar for each day you keep a game after the 5-day rental period. 7.00 to rent a game for 5 days?? That’s ridiculous.

      • Michael Gee

        Actually I rented a game on Wednesday. Its 8.99 a game now… Ridiculous

    • mushu

      the blockbuster in my city has late fees. a friend even had a voice mail from them telling her that next time she was in the store give the clerk promo code “wolverine” and when she did it was just a ploy to get her to come in and pay late fees (that she didn’t think she had because she didn’t think they had late fees!)

    • joe

      that “no late fee” thing is a scam. they never tell you the exact amount of days you can keep the dvd. for a 2 day rental or a week rental, is it the same? it doesn’t really say. then they charge you for the dvd if you’re a day late after that. LAME

      also, instead of renting a blockbuster DVD for 6 bucks, you could buy the DVD at amazon, for the same price on many of the titles. i’m talking about the older releases. if blockbuster rented the older movies out for $1 then maybe i would go more often.

      instead, they are obsessed with profit instead of the proper value of a service, and having been ripping people off for years and years. given more choices now, i doubt anyone would think of staying loyal to a company who has been spitting in your face for a long time.

  • Al

    The library is the only place I get DVDs from… or borrow from friends.

    • pauch

      I know you think you sound cool and hip for this but the reality is you sound like a cheap leech

      • Leech?

        The borrowing maybe, but what’s wrong with the library? My library has a great selection. I already pay for it. Why wouldn’t I use it?

      • The library is cool….

        That’s not being cheap but if you can actually find something that’s worth watching, why not?

      • Ladyli1

        The library is a great place to get DVDs!

      • Chris

        Pauch you sound like a jerk.

    • wg

      Agreed – the library is a great place to go. I’ve easily checked out 100 movies this year at the library – and then went and bought the ones I really liked and recommended many to other people I know.

      • I can’t believe Pauch..

        What the #$%& is wrong with going to the library?
        You must be a disgruntled Blockbuster employee!

  • Via

    I used to visit my local video store out of nostalgia, but then I got hit w/some outrageous late fees for a rental I’m positive that I returned on time. That was the last straw for me. There was no negotiating or consideration for my longtime service, just “pay us, screw you.” So I figured what’s the point of paying extra for the human interaction of it all, when the people I’m dealing with are idiots?

    • catherine

      Same here. With me, it was being hit with late charges for rentals returned on time PLUS the godawful attitudes of the emo/hipster nitwits behind the counter. When Netflix came along, I was only too glad to give them my business. Never have looked back.

  • tracy

    My fiance and I rented 4 “new releases” at BB last week because they were considered “a long wait” on NF. We only had time to watch 2 of them because new releases can only be rented for 2 days???? A complete waste of money. NF is awesome. I dont mind waiting a few extra weeks.

    • Stacy

      Most Blockbusters don’t have late fees anymore. You can actually keep them for up to a week after their due date without getting charged anything.

  • b

    I’m a Netflix user, and that started because I always felt so strong-armed by Blockbuster’s fees. It was expensive to rent a movie and late fees were just ridiculous. I think that Blockbuster is paying for that business model now, since they engendered so little customer loyalty that now that there are a lot of great alternative ways to get movies I have zero desire to patronize them.

  • Joshtinpowers

    The only reason to go to Blockbuster is to buy PVT’s, like 3 for $10.

    • Ladyli1

      I totally agree. I like to own my DVDs. Our neighbourhood stores got ran out by a couple of chain stores, so I decided that if I want to watch it, I buy it. If I didn’t like it, I’ll gift it to someone who does or sell it.

  • michelle

    I love to go to a video store on my way home from work and browse for a movie I like. It gives me a chance to destress before I get home. I have tried NF, and they’re great, but nothing can take away from that leisurely shopping experience. Everything doesn’t have to be a speedy download. There are plenty of people who want to do things the old fashioned way, so I think there is room for both types of business.

  • Melinda65

    I live in a small town and don’t have a Blockbuster nearby; there are videos available for rent at the convenience stores, but I usually get them from the library because I can return them unwatched without feeling guilty. I honestly can’t remember the last time that I rented a video.

  • PluckyDuck

    I still use Blockbuster. I like the immediacy of it. If I get the sudden urge to watch something I can go get it.
    And when my friends and I get together for a night in that’s part of the process: go get food, wander Blockbuster for a bit and fight about movies until we find something we can all agree on. It’s part of the fun. I like physically going to the store and getting exactly what I want when I want it instead of waiting to see what I get. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for a certain type of movie and what if that’s what shows up? I will never sign up for Netflix unless I absolutely have to. That’s just me.

  • BLM

    I love OnDemand. I sometimes go a month or two without watching a movie, so NetFlix isn’t my solution. But OnDemand is always there in case I get the urge (or time) to watch a movie. One movie, usually under $4, for 24 hours is perfect. Blockbuster is the worst–their selection is terrible and they always try to sell you their online services at checkout. The also ran my favorite video store out of business a few years ago. I hope BB goes out of business soon.

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