Requiem for a Closed Neighborhood Video Store: Pelham Video, Age 23

Last Updated Jul 22, 2009 11:40 AM EDT

It's time to pause for a moment and lament the passing of Pelham Video, the only video store that served our small town of 12,000 just outside of New York. It passed away, after a long struggle, at the age of 23.

In its final days, its storefront was scrawled with the "Going Out of Business" signs that are all too common these days -- but the passing of a video store in 2009 isn't about the rotten economy as much as it is about technology. We are all spending more time home lately, but there are many simpler, often cheaper, options available to us, even if most of them don't come with popcorn and the opportunity to buy candy in huge packages. That, I like to think, will be missed.

But if you think the closing of Pelham Video marks the end of one of our family's routines, of course, it isn't, which is the whole problem. I write this knowing that I wasn't exactly its best patron, usually preferring to scan the on-demand listings available through Cablevision, or digging into our stash of DVDs before venturing out to actually go and rent something. Many of my neighbors, of course, are also huge fans of Netflix, not to mention The Red Box outlets that have sprouted up recently at Stop 'n' Shop, and offer DVD rentals for $1. According to its site, there are five in within a five-mile radius. And that doesn't count the high concentration of Blockbusters, BestBuys and GameStops in our area. No wonder the store was in a death spiral.

What makes the closing of Pelham Video particularly poignant is thinking about what appears to have been its last stand. Roughly six months ago, it moved from a location on the main drag to an even more appealing one on the same street. Only steps from the train station, it was hoped that the new location would make it extremely convenient to pick up and drop off videos. Until fairly recently, this "location, location, location" strategy would have made sense. But as the plethora of options for acquiring entertainment expand, the only location that seems to matter is the home -- where a movie for $2.95 is just a few clicks away, and that package in the mailbox is from NetFlix.

Pelham Video leaves fewer and fewer survivors.