20th Century Flicks in Clifton is a Bristol institution, whose survival even to its owner David Taylor is “mystifying”. With Blockbuster the latest high street chain to go into administration following hot on the heels of HMV, former Blockbuster worker David wrote on Bristol 24-7 about how he stopped worrying and has grown to love the internet, and why physical film rental is not yet a dead duck.
“It was clear to anyone who stepped foot into a Blockbuster that their primary objective was to get as much money out of your pocket as possible before you left,” David writes as he documents what led to Blockbuster’s downfall and, in his own words, “the mystifying survival” of 20th Century Flicks.
He quit his job on September 11, 2001, posting his uniform and badge through the video return slot and “giving my manager the finger before going off to take drugs with my friends. It was my Randall moment.”
“A video shop has little right to exist in an age of file-sharing and online streaming services,” David adds.
Since May, Flicks has been run as a staff-owned cooperative. With 17,000 films, it is thought to have the largest collection in the UK, and between them the five staff have watched the majority.
“The media is full of lamentations for the online onslaught, that these corporations are victims of some dystopian economic evolution. Shopping habits may have moved online, but communities haven’t.
“We’re all still here; walking the streets, buying fags and booze, noticing changes, eating crisps, riding bikes, smiling at familiar faces. While we’re all here, there’s no reason to dismiss the idea that a local shop can make a go of things.
“The internet hasn’t taken all of the money. Maybe we can coexist with it. Well, we better because it’s probably not going to go away anytime soon, unless Lawnmower Man gets angry and breaks it.”