Blockbuster busts: Score one for the little guys

blockbuster-logoCould its pullout help the indies?

Struggling movie rental business Blockbuster Inc. will close all three of its Charlottesville stores as of January 3, according to a clerk at the Barracks Road Shopping Center location. That means more business, at least in the near term, for the indies that remain.

"Last night was one of my favorite nights," says Sneak Reviews Video owner Mark Tramontin, who learned not only of the end of Blockbuster but of an impending snowstorm, which is always good for business. "We've been going crazy all day."

Clerks at the other three indies–- C'ville Video, Video Etc., and Universal Video–- report a brisk business Friday in the runup to what the National Weather Service sees as a 12-20" snowfall. But after the snow melts, challenges remain.

"There are a lot of new technologies out there," says Tramontin, who oversees 26,000 titles–- one of the biggest inventories in the state–- in his two-level store in the West End Shops on Ivy Road. Long known for carrying exotic imports, Tramontin hopes that the Blu-Ray discs he stocks for big-screen owners plus a few VHS tapes for older customers continue to make a video store a compelling business.

"Hopefully," says Tramontin, "this will keep us going for a few more years."


Never been interested in renting movies- something I like I want to own it(I wonder how many times I have watched Easy Rider on DVD), but I do wish we had a decent place to buy DVDs. Ever since Suncoast went under its been sparse. I love TV on DVD and old stuff like was found in the Suncoast cheapie rack- got a lot of old westerns, Ramar of the Jungle, stuff like that there.
Of course there is always online ordering, but like with bookstores, its nice to be able to browse shevles-never know what surprises you might find.
The movie racks in the grocery stores, incidentally worth checking out. I got the first season (complete) of the Andy Griffith Show at Kroger last year!

I'm not a Blockbuster fan, but the tone here, especially in the headline, seems a little smug. People are losing their jobs.

Stopped going to Blockbuster when Netflix really started rolling. My cost per movie is about $0.75, including DVD, BD, and internet streaming. My two out-of-town college daughters use the account at their dorms for internet streaming of films onto their macs. Netflix is also keeping me out of our crappy local movie theaters.

This is not good news. Even though they had limited movies, they were cheaper then some places. Now there are very few places to rent movies in c-ville, at least close by and cheap. No, I don't like NetFlix, I like to choose a movie the night of.



People lose their jobs all the time because of outdated business models that don't change to remain relevant. This day has been coming for years. Brace yourself: postal workers, residential telephone installers, and buggy whip manufacturers are next.

Haven't been to Blockbuster in about 5 years. Don't miss it at all. We get an average of 16 movies a month from Netflix for $14 and NEVER - NEVER - have had to wait for a new release, been charged a late fee, or had to go further than our mailbox to pick up or return a DVD. And they have hundreds of movies we can watch instantly over the internet on our TV.

The only reason the "indies" are still around is because the all offer a back room, you know what they say, porn sells

They were killed off by netflix and redbox- not little guys by any means.

Blockbuster's mail service was good for a while, it was like Netflix but with 1-2 free in-store rentals per month. Then in 2006 they raised their rates and eliminated in-store rentals, and I was like, "hello, Netflix!"
It's a marvel they stayed in business for this long. Now we can shift our focus to wondering how Radio Shack stays in business. According to the Onion, even the CEO doesn't know..

Oh my god: You really believe the only reason people patronize independent art from independent businesses is because they're looking for something sordid? Your existence must be a sad one.

I love the comradarie of searching the back-room isles with my fellow creeps, looking for that right title to take home and watch approx 15 minutes of, an experience i could never have at blockbuster. Good riddance.

Local isn't always more expensive. Universal Video, near Mill Creek, offers all their catalog movies for $1 on Tuesdays, they have an intelligent collection and their customer service is excellent. I've been tempted by Netflix but I don't want to commit to a monthly fee for a service. Between Sneak Reviews and Universal, my family has access to just about any movie we want. I don't think Universal even has a "back room." If it does, it is well hidden. The independents have other offerings besides porn, like Sneak Reviews' huge documentary collection, and all their foreign films.

Long time coming. No selection and terrible customer service

If they had spent more money on stock and customer service and less on fancy signage and advertising they may have made it.

There are some things where bigger is not better.

Blockbuster can't even alphabetize their movies. How are they supposed to figure out their budget?

I for one will miss Blockbuster and feel bad for the employees. BB had a nice program of in-store exchange of mail rentals which gave me the best of both worlds: the fun of browsing and the convenience of mail/internet. I recently joined Netflix to see how it compares with Blockbuster and the first two time trials Blockbuster got my movies to me faster (I put the returns in the same mailbox, same time). Blockbuster has more music selections for opera (the only genre I checked because it's rarer and might indicate breadth of coverage) and I did not see much difference in foreign language films. Although my friends tell me Netflix is better I found a slight edge to Blockbuster. So my initial idea, that by losing the store Blockbuster would lose some online customers as well has not panned out in my case. However, Netflix option of direct playing of films on your computer is excellent and they have many titles available that way. Also in the wake of the Blockbuster collapse, I did look into Sneak Reviews for the pleasure of browsing. In cases where you want to find some rarer, older movies or genre-specific movies you urgently want to see on a whim, it's fine. But if you want a newer release, why pay $4.25 when it's a mere dollar at Redbox? So Sneak Reviews et al. should be a little worried: Redbox and Netflix are what have undercut Blockbuster as someone else mentioned above. It was not the independents whose business model is much more similar to Blockbuster's. And, as more older films get digitized and available online or by mail, the selection & browsing facets of the indies will no longer be a sufficient pull within the rental market. I think they need to look at the book/cafe model or along those lines to think of ways to keep the customers engaged. They need to create different social reasons to head to their shops.