And now, it’s at the end. A recent documentary, based around the closure of a store in Kalamazoo, Michigan
, highlighted just how brutal this loss is. It’s not that it died. It’s that it died after seemingly surviving an inevitable death that killed every one of its competitors. The documentary is short—less than ten minutes. But it tells a great story of a chain that lived because it served a clientele that had not learned about Netflix & Chill, that thinks Wi-Fi and streaming is cost-prohibitive compared to video rentals, when it’s actually cheaper. But that audience, made up of largely older adults, couldn’t come to the store to rent videos because they were the people most at risk.
The thing that killed Family Video was not streaming. It was COVID-19.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about another die-hard of physical rentals, Japan’s record-rental shops
, which survives into the present day because it caught hold before the country’s music industry could kill it. I have not researched in depth, but I am curious if COVID-19 did any damage to this business.
To me, it seems like the death of Family Video is a reminder that the economic impacts of this disease will most deeply impact the businesses living on borrowed time. And that’s unfortunate.
All the company has left is diversification—a diversification seemingly emphasized on its own website by the overwhelming CBD ads.