Sunday, September 18, 2011

lessons from Clinton Street Video

Yesterday afternoon, I dropped our Netflix DVD service, mainly because we've stopped sending the discs back and forth. Now we use Netflix streaming and Amazon video via a Roku more and more frequently. But part of the decision was also an intention to get back to using our local video store, Clinton Street Video. Clinton Street is about six blocks away with a great selection of films and the expected indie-Portland vibe. Walking down there with the dog used to be a cherished ritual. When I drove by a shuttered Blockbuster on Powell & 39th a week or so ago, the urgency of helping keeping this place in business was apparent (though I'm sure that was a good short term burst for Clinton St.).

So last night, the wife, kid, dog and I headed down there with romantic notions of browsing the collection and being inspired by the presence of physical media (at least in my head). In the back of my mind was also a move that we're considering at the library: whether to put the media collection out in the stacks.

The walk down there was great. (Sometimes things get out of control with dog and kid, but things were unexpectedly peaceful.) When I got there however, I was reminded of all the reasons that on demand video is better. Clinton Street Video was its usual charming, hip self. But there the new release section was crowded and as the dog barked outside and a few whines came from the three year old, I pushed myself through the crowd and attempted to browse.

One of the first things I immediately missed was the inability to easily dig deeper when looking at a title--the information was limited to what showed up on the box, with no easy way to hop on the internet for reviews or a trailer. My Android was in my pocket so I had an impulse to pull it out but because of the time crunch, I resisted. Also, given the limited categories of materials in the store, I felt a lack of curation compared to Netflix's various recommendation services. Then there were the "checked out" labels on the boxes...this was always annoying, but now it just seemed completely unnecessary to have to wait for someone else to finish watching something so I could get to it.

Maybe if I'd had more time, I'd have experience things differently. I could have enjoyed a leisurely browsing of boxes on the shelves. I might have tapped the knowledge of the staff for recommendations. A serendipitous conversation might have ensued with a fellow customer about films

Some reinvention of the local video store will certainly be necessary for long term survival, as this article asserts. The broad trend is similar for libraries: spaces are now important for events and connection with people as much as housing material.

Eventually we made it out of there with a DVD for the kid. The wife and I ended up watching something on Netflix streaming and then later Amazon video.

No comments:

Post a Comment