Video Galaxy Stores
Digging through my old stuff I found some old video store rental cards from a business that closed well more than a decade ago called Video Galaxy. I always thought that was a very cool name for a video store.
I found that I had not one but three cards in my possession:
Why three cards? Three locations:
Okay, you wanna talk about old here, this is frickin' old for one very simple reason - all the area codes for the business numbers start with 203, and there hasn't been a 203 in Northeastern CT since 1994 because of the introduction of 860 in 1995.
Mom 'n' Pop stores, VHS, bar codes and more
Video Galaxy stores were very local. Danielson, Putnam and Brooklyn are all in the same small county of Windham. These stores operated at a time when VHS was still king of the hill in home movie rentals. And even though there were several VG stores, they all were decidedly Mom 'n' Pop style. Each ran things its own way and that was fine.
The bar code on the back of each card was a very new thing in the early 1990s, and video rental stores were the first businesses I actually saw using them regularly.
Working at a VG was basically for anybody. I saw both young and old folks working there and they genuinely liked they jobs - however they always bitched about how little they were paid (which is true, they were hardly paid anything).
Some VG's had a porn section but not all. Back in the day there was this little room where all the porn was, but it was so frickin' obvious you were renting porn because they put the tapes in special black bags so EVERYBODY KNEW YOU WERE DOING IT. If you had a black bag, you were a perv, simple as that.
What was even funnier is that the clerks who worked at VG's would always prattle on about guys - by name - who would rent stacks of porn on a weekly basis. Privacy? Pff.. didn't exist. Small town living at its finest.
What killed Video Galaxy as well as many other local video stores was a few things.
First there was cable television. When video rental stores opened up, few people had cable so it was routine that stores would have a fair amount of customers just about every night renting movies.
Second was Blockbuster. When they moved into town, people dumped the local stores almost overnight. Nobody could get new movies as fast as Blockbuster could.
Third was simply the fact that renting movies got old. The market peaked, video rental stores started losing money hand over fist and eventually were forced to shut down. Most of them never even got to the DVD stage. For their entire existence they did nothing but videocassette. First with Betamax and VHS, then just VHS until the bitter end.
When Video Galaxy closed shop, people were sad about it because it was a cool store.