(This was written in 2009. The store that this was about is now closed. How did that happen?)
My video rental store sells samuri swords. Top that. I dare you.
When we moved back to Burleson, we decided to check out the local mom-and-pop video place in lieu of Blockbuster because it just seemed more Burlesonesque to do so. How right we were.
The above mentioned swords are hanging in the front window of the store so they are the first things you see from the parking lot. Gotta get that merchandise out in front, as any skilled retail person would know. Forget the “opening price point” tactic that is heralded by all those big, successful companies. Go right for the Asians and the troubled white teens!
The building itself is rather large. I remember it being either a Mitchell’s or a Myers back before this town became a Frisco waiting to happen. Both of those establishments sold clothing and clothing only. Many a summer afternoon was spent in there by me wistfully eyeing the new Ocean Pacific tank tops and bathing suits with all their garishly bright colors. So how would a video rental place fill that space, other than hanging swords in the window?
The front area is filled with video games for rent, but it also features cheap toys, bargain DVD bins, and all other manner of necessities – including very long wind chimes.
Next, to get to the DVD rentals, one has to travel through a part of the building that the owner is probably most proud of: the furniture section. This center room is filled with futons, couches, beds, used TVs, and (best of all) end tables. But these aren’t just any end tables. These are the faux ceramic ones sculpted into many of today’s most popular designs, such as gargoyles, topless faeries holding crystal balls, and wolves. We used to have to drive all the way to Trader’s Village in Grand Prairie to find such works of art. Now they are just down the street. How fortunate!
Finally, in the back, are the DVDs. The selection is pretty scarce, but all the new releases are there and usually in stock. Past trips have succeeded in netting titles like My Fair Lady and Deliverance, for a perspective on the availablility of older titles, but we struck out while looking for Witness. All in all, not too bad when you get right down to it. However, isn’t it obvious that we go there solely for the atmosphere?
When it is time to check out, a look around the counter will reveal items like candy, a shopping cart full of glass bottle Dr. Peppers, cigs on the wall, and various odds and ends in front of the register. Once, it was a plastic container filled with used hardware. Dawn facetiously asked if they were for sale and the owner (Tex is his name – really) came back with the witty rejoinder “Why? You wanna screw?” That led to all his buddies cracking up at his profound comedic genius that has carried over ever since he first heard the joke in third grade.
Being in line is the real treat here because Tex can’t contain himself from his captive audience of empty case-holding patrons awaiting their turn. For another example, there was a jar of very large dill pickles on the counter being scoped out by Dawn’s seven-year-old son. Tex turned to him and asked, “You ever had a dump that big?”
Again, I am not making this up.
My favorite example of how ahead of the retail curve this store is comes from my last rental trip. While waiting for the guy in front of me to tire of the stand-up act he was being treated to, my eyes wandered over to a closed door to the left of the pay area. Two pieces of spiral notebook paper were taped to the windowless portal with the future confetti still attached to the pages. The top one read:
YOU MUST BE OVER 18
TO ENTER THIS ROOM!!!
But the bottom sheet was the priceless one, and I want you to think long and hard (no pun intended) about the implications herein:
IF YOU ENTER THIS ROOM
YOU MUST BUY SOMETHING
FROM THIS ROOM!!!
Talk about a risk. What if you went in there and were treated to nothing but homemade titles by Tex and his Dogpatch wife? And then you were forced to buy one?
Perhaps the man is a comedic genius, after all…