In true librarian fashion, she quickly offered up some background information, historical references and intriguing tidbits, so Westporters can better understand what a treasure the library collection is.
Maxine noted that when Downtown Video and Best Video (near Bombay Restaurant) went out of business, they offered their collections to the library.
Not only did the institution purchase both collections (with help from a generous supporter) — the library also got Jim Grosner on staff.
The longtime night manager of Downtown Video, Jim has worked every Monday through Thursday night at the library, ever since the store closed.
Maxine added said that the excellent DVD collection grew when a patron decided that — rather than amass his own film “library” — he would give money to the Westport Library, for everyone to enjoy.
This couple was recently spotted looking for Blu-rays at the Westport Library.
After the man get a Blu-ray player, he continued the tradition with Blu-ray DVDs. “It’s a financial challenge to have a multiplicity of formats, so his donation was critical,” Maxine praised. “We now have an excellent Blu-ray collection too.”
But wait! There’s more!
“Beyond the collection itself is the community feeling you get while you select DVDs and audiobooks,” Maxine said.
“Strangers ask each other for advice. Some say spontaneously, ‘Have you seen this? It’s terrific’ to the person next to them.
“Our staff knows the collection well, and also makes great suggestions. We have many of the Criterion DVDs — very special re-masterings — as well as all the TV shows.
“Our international film collection” — what used to be called “foreign films” — “is superb, and you’ll find every language imaginable. Many people have dropped premium services and Netflix because they find the collection, plus the camaraderie is more important to them.”
Maxine could go on and on, but she’s not that type of librarian.
“06880” has no idea what the next blockbuster trend in video will be. Whatever it is, the Westport Library will embrace it.
The recent “06880” post on the local BP station “gas sale” drew nearly as many comments as the number of gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf Coast.
Meanwhile, across the street, another financial story is unfolding.
Blockbuster is about to file for bankruptcy. (The chain, that is — not the local outlet, which saw the writing on the wall a while ago and shrunk by half. The rest of the building now houses a big-and-tall men’s store, which for some reason I never patronize. Go figure.)
Some see the demise of Blockbuster as a sign that the company failed to adapt to changing technologies and tastes. It was done in, they say, by Netflix, Redbox and streaming video.
Others see it as market payback for a company that charged usurious late fees, advertised “2-day rentals” that were really 1 night only, and did not stock indie films or controversial documentaries.
As someone who avoids chain outlets whenever possible — Doc’s vs. Starbucks is a no-brainer — I see Blockbuster’s bye-bye as karma.
Back in the pre-Blockbuster day, Westport was awash in mom-and-pop video rental stores. A funky hole-in-the-wall place next to Westport Pizzeria carried 1 copy of every film ever made, in countries even the UN never heard of.
There was a shop in Westfair, and others sprinkled around town.
Blockbuster drove them all out — and such was its domination, I can’t even remember their names.
I do recall Circuit City, Caldor and Sam Goody — area stores that Blockbuster may soon join in that great retail graveyard in the sky.
If you remember any Westport video stores — from that long-ago era of the 1990s — click the “comments” link.
In the meantime, if you’re not a Netflix, Redbox or streaming video fan — or you just want a change of pace — I’ve got 2 words for you:
Blockbuster is closing hundreds of stores — over 500 this year, on top of 374 last year. In the most recent quarter the once-swaggering company lost $435 million — on top of a $360 million loss a year ago.
I hadn’t thought about Blockbuster in years — in today’s world there’s Netflix (the old-fashioned mail way, plus its streaming service), Hulu, and 5 new technologies that were announced just last night — but the news made me think about my old (very old) friend on the Post Road. It shrunk to half its size last year, ceding the east end to a big-and-tall clothing store (not my cup of tea).
I couldn’t imagine Blockbuster’s business model working in Westport anymore. Particularly when the library offers DVDs for the fairly low price of free.
I called the Westport store. A chirpy voice answered — a ringing phone was probably the most excitement she’d had all day.
“Blockbuster is shutting lots of stores,” I said. “Is Westport one of them?”
“We’re fine,” she replied.
“Well, how’s business?” I asked.
“Do you need something?” she countered.
“Like someone else I can talk to there?” I said. I was thinking like, you know, a manager.
“Like a DVD?” she wondered.
No. I did not need a DVD.
And I don’t know anyone else in Westport who still needs anything from Blockbuster.
Which is why I’m not sure business really is fine, over at the local “video rental store.”
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