The Internet is a wonderful thing.
It puts the vast collection of much of the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, lets us interact and stay in touch with friends and loved ones the world over and, most importantly, keeps us up to date on who Justin Bieber and Kourtney Kardashian are dating.
As we all know, though, it’s not without its downside. Along with obnoxious pop-up ads — “YOU'RE A WINNER! CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE PRIZE!” — a disturbing amount of pornography and the pervasive threat of hackers lurking behind every unsolicited email, the Internet has slowly been stripping away some things that many of us remember fondly.
Email has had the Postal Service punch drunk since the late ‘90s, bookstores have struggled to survive ever since Amazon came along and Spotify makes that album collection you spent the past few decades building seem silly.
And Netflix, well, it’s been killing video stores for a while now.
Most won’t complain. Thousands of videos whenever you want for just a small monthly fee? That’s a pretty good deal. And now there’s Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and more.
That’s why we’re a little hesitant at the prospect of some in Moscow to try to save Howard Hughes Video. Their hope is that the longtime video depot will be reorganized into a new business in March, as the Main Street Video Cooperative Inc., when the current owners give up control.
But that’s only if the group can convince enough locals to shell out the $200 fee to become customer-shareholders.
The store’s movie inventory reportedly has some 30,000 titles, many of which they say are not available through larger rental companies or streaming sites.
Video stores also offer the opportunity to interact with film buffs who may well be able to suggest a movie to scratch a cinematic itch in a way that Netflix’s star-based suggestion algorithm just can’t satisfy. Moreover, there’s a nostalgia to going to the video store, browsing through boxes and occasionally picking one up to read the back. Clicking left and right on a remote from the couch just isn’t quite the same thing.
Is that enough to lure in the number of investors they would need to keep their doors open for years to come? We’re rooting for them, but we suspect our feelings are similar to most — we wouldn’t put our money on it.
And that, of course, is the problem.