McGinnis: Bowling Green’s Video Spectrum to closeWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I love Netflix. From the moment I first was able to stream movies and shows on my PlayStation 3, I was over the moon. I’ve been able to catch up on countless things that would have been prohibitively expensive otherwise. I’ve saved a ton on buying and renting products.
Really, the ability to get DVDs sent to my mailbox is just icing on the cake that is instant streaming. And all that for an incredibly reasonable rate.
So, yeah, Netflix is awesome.
But all revolutions come with side effects. The old model of home entertainment is quickly going the way of the dodo. Companies like Blockbuster — longtime grand champion of the video market — are reeling as the rug has been pulled out from under their business model. But big corporations like that still haven’t been hit as hard as classic mom-and-pop operations across the country.
So it was with sad resignation that I met the news of the impending closure of Video Spectrum in Bowling Green, the greatest video store ever.
For a young movie buff, the Spectrum was more than just a store. It offered a world of possibilities not seen anywhere else. In an era where every chain video retailer was operating under a “hits and hits alone” policy, the Spectrum was renowned for its selection of thousands of titles not available elsewhere.
Every memory of the great establishment on East Washington Street brings a smile to my face. Walls plastered with posters, old and new. Rooms filled to the brim with movies, always adding more, as though the possibilities would never end. A stubborn insistence on never getting rid of its old VHS collection, no matter how much real estate it took up. You never know, someone might need to rent one of them, after all.
Keep the customers satisfied
When I was a journalism undergrad in college, I wrote a story on the Spectrum as one of my first pieces for the college paper. Bill and Susan Wilkins, the co-owners, knew me as a longtime customer and it was wonderfully kind of them to welcome me as a writer. We sat for the interview in the store’s back room, discussing its history, expansion into new forms of media (DVDs were brand new), difficulties in the marketplace and so forth.
One thing I’ll never forget is when Bill outlined the store’s policy on discarding movies. It’s not that the Spectrum never got rid of older titles, you see. It was that the Spectrum never removed a title from its inventory if it had, even once, been requested by a customer. Yes. This place was so focused on making sure every individual who walked through the door was satisfied, they kept track of every title that people had asked for by name — and then never got rid of it.
The dedication to the needs of a widely varied consumer base is one of the things that made the store an institution. For three decades, Video Spectrum stood the test of time through massive changes in entertainment. The VHS era. The rise of DVD. The beginning of Blu-ray. The dawn of Blockbuster as the industry’s 800-lb. gorilla. The advent of Video on Demand and satellite TV. Through it all, the little store in Bowling Green still stood, a monument to bygone eras of both home video and of commitment to customer satisfaction.
For years, even as the end seemed inevitable, my mind refused to accept the possibility. The Spectrum had been there forever, and would be there forever. It had survived so much, surely this too would pass. Even as I became enamored of the world of possibilities Netflix offered, the biggest part of my heart remained for the classic “Movie Buff’s Paradise.”
But now, it will soon be over. The Spectrum stopped renting titles late last month, and is in the process of selling its entire inventory — everything to the bare walls. The store is offering excellent deals on their movies, including vintage (and rare) VHS tapes going for only $2
Remembering the legacy
Yet I can’t bring myself to go there. It’s like the second I step into the store, it would become real. A world without the Spectrum would be a reality. And I still don’t want to believe that. And even when I come to accept it, I’d prefer to remember the classic store on East Washington as it was. Let it stay fixed in time as a monument to a world of entertainment possibilities. And hope that even as it closes, its legacy of trying to do right by its customers inspires others to do the same.
Farewell, Video Spectrum. You survived long past your era, yet you leave us far too soon.