For most of us, visiting a video rental store and selecting a title is little more than a distant memory. In fact, using the word “video” in the context of VHS is pretty much Jurassic (Park). With the increasing domination of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, these stores have long become obsolete. Unless, that is, if you live in Bend, Oregon, home to the only Blockbuster store left in the United States.
In a recent video, The Verge headed to Bend to find out if there’s anything we in the streaming age can learn from this last bastion of rental culture in the US. What it found — besides a nostalgia-inducing smell — is that there is so much more to the movie-selection process when faced with a physical wall of titles than when choosing movies online. When you use Netflix’s recommendation algorithm, for example, it can become a mind-numbing, automated, and impersonal experience. At Blockbuster, on the other hand, employees and customers share their experiences, offering selections based on shared tastes, trust, and loyalty.
Toward the end of the video, The Verge highlights alternative streaming site MUBI, which has a group of people curate its more limited selection, offering a human take based on actually having watched the film, rather than automatically basing recommendations on general popularity and the viewer having watched something similar.
Watch the video up top and then let us know if you miss the rental store experience in the comments below.
Speaking of personal recommendations, here are 10 movies to get you excited about science fiction.