This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Gale of Creative Destruction bypasses Rensselaer for now

When I saw that Blockbuster was closing its remaining stores, I wondered what that meant for Rensselaer's Blockbuster. I discovered that it would mean nothing. The local Blockbuster is not company owned but one of the few franchised stores.

There are about fifty franchised stores nationwide that will remain open. Six of them are in Indiana. I asked the person in the Blockbuster store if the closure of the company would hurt their ability to get titles. She said it would not because they did not get their titles from Blockbuster but from other vendors. The only thing they have that is Blockbuster is the name and logo on the store.

The late great economist Joseph Schumpeter said that the most important characteristic of capitalism was that it generated a "gale of creative destruction." Innovation upsets old ways of doing things and brings into being new ways of doing things. Sometimes the process takes time and sometimes it is quite rapid. The rise and fall of movie rentals is one of those cases in which the process has been very rapid. When VCRs became common in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rensselaer saw a bunch of stores pop up renting movies on VCR. There were several and I do not remember much about them, though I do recall one in the back of the Donnelly building just north of Pizza Hut. (Does anyone remember more of them?) A grocery store or two also got into the business. The small stores were wiped out when Blockbuster arrived. At its peak, it had over 5000 stores nationwide. The development of the DVD wiped out the VCR industry but helped the movie rental business. Technology marches on and Netflix, Redbox, and especially on-demand video have eroded the market for the retail movie rental businesses. Industries and businesses were born, thrived, and died in less than forty years. However, in Rensselaer we will preserve for now a bit of that past because we will have one of about 50 of the remaining Blockbuster stores in the United States.

Morning update: It's beginning to look a lot like winter.
Update two: Is it fall or winter?

1 comment:

Brian Hale said...

The first video store in Rensselaer was Video Vendor. Owned by Steve and Karen McAleer. They then moved it to the new strip mall where the old schultzes and wagon wheel were located.