We can still rent video tapes in 2017! In this episode of Thrifting Adventures, we’ll briefly cover the news that Rain City Video in Seattle will close on April 28th, consider cultural preservation versus technological evolution, and conclude with positivity. There are local options remaining that could inspire those abroad for watching obscure media, such as the Zatoichi television show, Spectreman on VHS, or anachronistically learning about Windows 95 featuring contemporary actors, without requiring piracy!
Rain City Video
After helping a buddy move last year, and nearly driving past, I was surprised the humble rental store was still open. They were too far away to casually frequent and I don’t watch nearly enough movies to make an occasional trek worthwhile. Still, I was sad to hear they were closing, especially with a nearby Half Price Books location closing this month as well. They had an impressively diverse inventory even five days before closing.
History versus Convenience
“Please be kind, rewind” and returning videotapes are antiquated concepts. Sometimes we simply must remove the old to make room for the new, progress without regression, and Blu-Ray certainly surpasses DVD and VHS in quality. There’s a whole breadth of older esoteric media that is being lost to time because there just isn’t a need for a Windows 95 guide on Blu-ray… but it would be so cool to see! Not to mention culturally relevant.
Valuable Historical Stuff
This might be the part that makes losing of any venerable local business so sorrowful. Humble video stores out in the boonies, larger bookstores within the city, and any other attempts were pursuing what remains of the American dream outside the confines of the trademarked, bleached, and generic Corporate America. We might see these businesses closing as losing that freedom. One more mega apartment complex, another Fortune 500 company wiping out communities, and other transgressions.
That might be the thought pushed to its logical extreme.
I just don’t think it’s entirely true that any change to the community is a negative one. Businesses ail, ideas fail, and spirits prevail. We do have nonprofit Scarecrow Project operating within Scarecrow Video in Seattle that’s like a casual video museum. While the Zatoichi 25-movie series for example was packaged by film preservationists at The Criterion Collection, the television series is most likely out-of-print or certainly obscure, though Scarecrow Video have them for rent.
Bias Note: Better Zombie is not [yet] affiliated with the Scarecrow Project.
Outside of Seattle, there might be local video shops in your area, and if not, it’s a good opportunity to run with the idea. You could start a local fan club for either movies or something like action figures or music. There are online organizations like the Internet Archive working to preserve Internet culture, and on a similar note, OoCities preserved many of the Geocities pages that served as a foundation for many budding websites.
If you like that charming store, go support them over their equivalent big business. That’s their best chance for short-term survival, at least.