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Local video stores going away? Hopefully not.

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 4 September 2010.
Planet PHP

Just saw a comment on a forum that aBlockbuster has a dead business model', and I've noticed that one branch of our local video store chain closed. The other store, while still big, is feeling empty.

The rise of Netflix predicted the end of video stores years ago, but it didn't happen. At least, not quickly. The rise of avideo on demand' also was seen as a nail in the coffin for video stores, but it didn't happen right away either. aVideo on demand' is something we've had via Tivo for 3 years from Amazon, but I've only used it once. It's not that convenient, perhaps due to a slow internet connection?

Cable services' aoon demanda options have probably hurt video stores too, but those have been around for a long time, and it didn't seem to hurt video stores that much.

The advent of redbox and similar services, allowing quick, cheap rental of popular videos in convenient places - this is likely hurting video stores too.

It does seem the local video store may be in danger, and I'll offer a few suggestions for local video stores who want to stay in business, and perhaps thrive.

1. Offer dropoff service with various local merchants. If I could drop off video-store X videos at the local grocery, subway, dry cleaners, gym, etc., even if I couldn't rent another one, it would save me a trip and add to the convenience factor of dealing with your store.

2. Offer in-store systems to give me recommendations. I've been surprised that in 10 years, I've never seen a kiosk in any store that would let me hit IMDB or something similar. I can turn to the net and get movie recommendations, reviews, etc, but I've never been able to do that *at the moment I'm trying to make a decision*. Yes, many people come get the new releases and that's it, but many stores have a large vast back catalog of items that just sit unwatched because people don't know anything about them. Yesa it might be that videos people find on the web aren't in stock. Soa keep track of the movies people are looking up anda *get them* to rent.

3. Offer meal/movie deals with local eateries. Our local video store has a Burger King, Dairy Queen, PIzza Hut, Subway and private Greek and Chinese restaurants in the same shopping plaza - 1 minute walk from store to store. Yet none of them have ever paired up. I sometimes order my Chinese, walk down to the video store, rent a movie, come back and pick up the Chinese. I can't be the only one doing this, but I bet if more people were offered $1 off a movie rental with a Chinese takeaway order, they'd be back. Or just a $20 aodinner/moviea package - here's your coupon, go pick up the movie, and dinner'll be ready in 10 minutes.

Eventually - years from now, even more people will live a digital lifestyle, and most movies will be available at the click of a button. Buta I suspect it'll be newer releases for a long time. Local video stores can survive for many years by offering a better shopping experience and catering to the niche interests.