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Until last year, Family Video was an anachronistic success story. A video store chain survived and even thrived in the years after the collapse of Blockbuster, Hollywood Video and other players. But the pandemic, which had the dual effect of depressing foot traffic and disrupting movie releases, delivered a fatal blow. The chain opted to liquidate earlier this month.
COVID-19 may well have just sped up a process that was playing out slowly, with younger generations totally unfamiliar with the video rental format. Over the past 10 to 15 years, media retail broadly has struggled as digital formats and e-commerce threatened the relevance of brick-and-mortar music, video and bookstores. That same process is playing out in real-time as GameStop tries to adapt to the digitization of its core product.
While consumers may opt for more convenient modes of accessing culture products, it's worth asking the question of what is lost and what changes when physical stores that were once hubs of cultural products, and their enthusiasts, disappear.