The Charming Rarity of the "Mom and Pop" Movie Rental Shop

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Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
There's something increasingly impersonal about today's shopping experience that makes such endeavors a lot less thrilling than they once were. Shopping bags are now virtual lists where we track the items we plan to purchase. Showrooms are websites that offer a basic, two-dimensional view of the products for sale. And when it comes to movie rentals, one can hardly find the DVD they want without consulting an online service or a monstrous kiosk. While we used to be able to walk into our local rental shop and shoot the breeze with the resident movie geek, our only source for recommendations today increasingly becomes the Internet.

There's something increasingly impersonal about today's shopping experience that makes such endeavors a lot less thrilling than they once were. Shopping bags are now virtual lists where we track the items we plan to purchase. Showrooms are websites that offer a basic, two-dimensional view of the products for sale. And when it comes to movie rentals, one can hardly find the DVD they want without consulting an online service or a monstrous kiosk. While we used to be able to walk into our local rental shop and shoot the breeze with the resident movie geek, our only source for recommendations today increasingly becomes the Internet.Yet, while most chain and independent video rental stores have shut their doors, one rare but reliable shop remains. Media Wave Video, located in my old college town of Fairfield, CT, might just be the last of its kind in the area. Seemingly independent from all chain influence, its walls are plastered with practically every movie or television series you could ever imagine.

But what stands out above all else is the human element. This expansive collection comes with reasonable prices and that movie geek passion you can't find while reading a screen. The staff is accommodating, ready to answer any and all questions, and they put every DVD through a machine that cleans and repairs the disk before you ever leave the premises. (Damaged disks can be quite the hassle when there's no middleman to ease your predicament. Machines are smart, but they can't do everything.)

We all like convenience, and we all like to be lazy. The effortlessness of having your movies sent by mail and the ease of picking up a DVD on your way out of the supermarket may have their perks, but neither can offer the vast array of entertainment that comes from years of building an expansive library. So many are focused on building a quick and easy solution for customers, but many neglect the relationship.

Movies are social by nature. Machines can't argue the merits of a certain director, or the appeal of one actor over another. We grab and go, as with many of today's other supposed service improvements. How can we further enhance the customer experience in the future if so many are essentially removing themselves from the equation today? "Mom and Pop" shops may seem nostalgic and antiquated, but human connection will continue to hold strong long after we disconnect from our newfangled gadgets. Integrating some of these family values may just be the ties that bind to lasting loyalty.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION