Where Have All The Video Rentals Gone?

If you were born after 1990 you can stop reading because this is not for you. Well, you may relate to it, but take caution. This article examines the pre-historic time I like to refer to as B.S. – Before Streaming. There was a time when you had to leave the indentation of your couch, go outside, and communicate with others just to obtain visual entertainment. This entertainment took the form of DVDs and VHS. Again, if your only knowledge of the term “VHS” is that one awful movie with the same title, you might want to stop here; it's time to walk down the nostalgic aisles of mom and pop movie rental stores. 

Growing up in Denton, my movie store was Payless Video.  When you walked into the place you would hear the bell chime above your head. Every wall in the building was shelved with new rentals, while the middle aisles were veiled with older titles that begged to be discovered. You could stroll over to the “Employee Picks” section and select your cinematic soulmate by perusing the choices they so proudly selected. There was something wistful about the tactile effort of reading the movie’s synopsis on the back cover. Once you made your way to the front counter, you would begin to debate a movie’s appeal with Sharon, the overzealous employee, whose hair color marked her mood for the week. As she rang up your rental you would hear another chime, not from the front door, but from the beads that shielded the porn section from the eyes of small children. This chime announced to anyone over the age of ten that someone was renting a skin flick, and made sure to encourage you to stare at him or her really hard as they left. (Perhaps this is one benefit of Internet streaming).

The days of movie store adventures are now obsolete. Most millennials will never have this experience. This is where our city libraries step in. I hold libraries dear to my heart for numerous reasons. The libraries and the books and movies within were my babysitters growing up. The number of library cards I have acquired could chronicle my life. The beauty of libraries is that they house so many forms of media, as well as literature. You can still gain the muscle memory of physically choosing a movie. You can even have a conversation with a real, live person, and not yell at your Netflix account for taking Hot Rod off your queue. 

Libraries foster the sacred memories that are tied to physical rituals. Actions are what separates what you remember and what gets lost in the vast filing cabinet we call our brain. This is why tangibly reading and turning pages of a book, or handpicking a film and placing it in a player are so important. We need to have a sense of material in our routines if we want to recollect and keep the emotion of nostalgia alive. 

Perhaps we owe more respect to the people who manage the information so readily available to us—for free, I might add. The city of Denton houses three public libraries that are eager to lend you a step into the past. Until Denton adopts the hipster mentality that encompasses cities like Seattle and Austin, the library is the last bastion of video rentals. Treat these places with respect. Imagine them as that rental box that reminds us all to be kind to ourselves and rewind your movie watching experience back to a more sentimental time.

Denton Public Library North Branch
3020 N Locust Dr.

Emily Fowler Central Library
502 Oakland St.

South Branch Library
3228 Teasley Ln.