Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where is the paper cutter and color printer when you need it

My neighborhood Blockbuster is due to close in April. I can’t simply express what that means to me, but because liquidation sales have turned Blockbuster into a big used DVD store, I’ve been scavenging for good deals.

Speaking from multiple experiences, liquidation sales in general start out with relatively modest discounts when inventory is abundant. During the first week, used DVDs were $8. This sounds great at first until you realize that you can find better deals online for used DVDs at places like As the weeks passed, the price of used DVDs dropped down to $6 and is now $5 (except for certain new-releases like the Social Network which are not on sale at all). $5 tends to be a sweet spot because even Amazon or will have a tough time delivering you a physical DVD at that price. 

The true gem of the store is the rack of tightly packed DVDs in clear sleeves that are now on sale for $2. While the rack only occupies about 10 square feet, its density of movies is the highest in the store. Going through this rack is like a treasure hunt. In total, I’ve probably spend a couple of hours digging but because they keep it relatively full, you never know what you will find. Here is what I bought so far:

1) Frost/Nixon - This is about a televised interview with Richard Nixon after his pardon. It was expected to be superficial but turned out to be hard hitting and revolutionary. I wanted to see this but didn’t get a chance and it doesn’t hurt that it stars Frank Langella.

2) The Station Agent - This is a movie I’ve had on one of my lists of movies. I have no idea what it’s about but it had a 97% rating on last time I checked.

3) Moliere - This is about the French playwright who wrote the comedy “The Misanthrope”. I got this because I saw a modern adaptation of that play, “The Philanthropist”.

From the normal racks of at least previously organized DVDs, I bought:

1) Taken - "They took his daughter but he will take their lives." Sounds like the start of a typical action movie but I've heard good things about it.

2) Mostly Martha - This is the only movie I’ve actually seen before. It’s falls into the category of “it’s better than the American remake” and is about a talented chef named Martha who can’t understand who is focused a bit too much on her food but suddenly needs to deal with more than she can handle in her personal life. The movie takes place mostly in and around the kitchen so if you liked Ratatouille you’ll like this too. The soundtrack is also great and the movie was almost worth the $5 just for the “Country” track by Keith Jarrett.

3) Inception - Accidentally bought what turned out to be a duplicate copy.

If you read this far, it is probably because you are wondering what any of this has to do with paper cutters and color printers. I spent some time today making and printing black and white DVD covers for the movies from the $2 rack. Blockbuster was selling empty DVD cases to go with the caseless DVDs. As much as I wanted to buy a color printer and a paper cutter, I didn't think saving a few bucks on DVDs following the close of my neighborhood DVD rental store justified such a heavy investment. While the experience was for me, uncommon, it turns out that there is enough demand for DVD cover images online for there to be several websites dedicated for sharing and distributing them. I ended up crafting my own because those websites required registration.

I just think it's ironic that people printing their own DVD covers may be making illegal copies and here I am printing DVD covers because the DVD store is going out of business. It would be an oversimplification to say that Blockbuster was not satisfying the demands of its customers. What I'm sure about is that I will miss going to my neighborhood Blockbuster.

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