Early Ad for a Video Rental Store in 1980

I am not sure when the first video rental store appeared in my hometown, but it was certainly not in early 1980. I clipped this ad because I enjoy the language and angle they are using. This is so early in what will become a major, and now dead industry, so it is interesting to see how they approached the business.

Firstly they try to work off high fuel prices to make an argument for home video and then they promise to sell you a video tape recorder wholesale, but with one stipulation. You need to rent, or as they say preview, 72 movies from them for $9.95 each. That number seems awfully high, but I am sure that this early in the video rental game, these numbers made sense.

I am not sure what happened to this particular trailblazing company. I wonder how quickly they changed their business model or if they stuck to this system and were eventually left behind.


Garry Vander Voort

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
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6 thoughts on “Early Ad for a Video Rental Store in 1980

  1. ddsw says:

    Oh yeah. This resonates because my family owned a video store, I practically grew up there (I’ll post some photos sometime.) Every video-store print ad from that era used that Hollywood footlight/makeup mirror border. I don’t know if they ever changed their business approach but my guess is they were eventually squashed out of existence by Blockbuster like every other mom-and-pop video store. That’s definitely supported by the Google Maps street view of the storefront, which shows it vacant.

  2. Spottedfeather says:

    9.95 for a video tape back in the 80s ? Sweet. I was used to them being far more than that.

  3. The irony of this, is that Blockbuster would later be driven out of business by Netflix-like services (and/or their own inability to adapt and lack of variety, depending on your point of view).

  4. Could this have been from 1979 during the gas crisis then? I remember watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail on a VCR circa 1977…one of the first to do so.

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