Last week was the first time that I actually noticed a shift from the past to the future. Often, when technology, or something else, begins to make a part of your life that you once took for granted obsolete, it’s a slow, progressive and usually unnoticeable change. Last week though, both HMV and Blockbuster were put into administration by the internet.
To develop this further we have to look at what both HMV and Blockbuster offered. HMV was a store which sold movies, tv shows, music and games. It became the final place to go to get a dvd/blu-ray or a random cd. It seemed to be the only place left in the high street that was completely dedicated to entertainment. Unfortunately, people just don’t go into shops to get their films and music anymore.
Two internet mediums have killed the store, internet shopping and movie streaming sites. Why would you go into a town or city centre, struggle to find a parking space and then push through the weekend crowds, to search, queue and then get back to your car and get home, when you could have the whole process completed within ten minutes from the comfort of your sofa. People don’t browse in shops anymore and when it’s as easy as typing a movie or song title into a search engine, it makes more sense to shop online.
Itunes and downloading songs, either legally or illegally, has also killed the entertainment store. A song cost 99p to buy, an album, about £5. Although I still feel compelled to own the cd, most people don’t, which means a shop with racks and racks of cds, which very little people are interested in or can get cheaper and easier elsewhere, was always going to end up failing. HMV couldn’t keep up with the times.
I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did and this goes equally for Blockbuster. A dvd/blu-ray rental store felt like it should have began to struggle the moment Sky movies became so accessible or when LoveFilm offered to send you the films you wanted directly with no late charges. This was the beginning of the end and it felt like people’s rejection of what they weren’t familiar with was the only thing keeping Blockbuster in business.
Then Netflix and LoveFilm begin to add the option of streaming movies. You no longer have to go to your high street, stroll up and down the aisles and choose the film. No more reading the back of the box or deciding whether to pay extra for the newest release or get two films for the same price. Instead, you can pay a monthly subscription and watch as many films as you want to, broadband permitting. I’m genuinely surprised Blockbuster managed to last this long.
I’m also sad that it hasn’t too. Unlike some of the other stores that recently went into administration, Jessops and Comet to name two, HMV and Blockbuster actually played a part in my childhood. I have fond memories as a kid, going into Blockbuster and spending forever searching for just the right film. You only got one shot. This wasn’t a situation where you could go back immediately and change your mind. This was a gamble and I spent the necessary time making that careful decision. It meant reading the boxes, weighing up one film against another or even, on a rare occasion, going for something completely random that I wasn’t sure of (that’s you Wishmaster!)
It shows the age I was even more when I think that I was searching for VHS videos. A time when you had to fast forward the trailers at the beginning, hope that the person before you showed good etiquette and rewound the tape and prayed even more that it was a tape that still worked properly and hadn’t become worn down and ruined.
Browsing was a big part of renting movies, which brings me to HMV. I still browse HMV today. I don’t buy from there as much but I still enjoy going in, reminding myself of the multitude of shows I want to own but can’t afford, and trying to find a random bargain or two. When I was at university I was lucky enough to have a job too, which meant that I could spend ten pounds a week buying random cds or dvds. This is where I took a gamble on a £5 copy of the American Office or bought the original Thundercats series. Browsing meant I’d take a gamble and it became a great part of the week.
It’s a necessary move for both stores to close. The internet is solely to blame but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think we should go out and buy lots from both HMV and Blockbuster in an attempt to save the businesses because the Internet has made shopping easier and much more stress-free. I just think it’s a shame that two huge giants of the high street, which played a big part of my film and tv watching as a kid, will no longer be around if I find myself in town on a Saturday afternoon.
Overall, a sad time for entertainment shopping and a stark awakening to the time we live in. The internet is where we do almost everything now and its beginning to have an impact on the things we take for granted. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is for another post, but it’s definitely something which makes me feel a bit sad.