Are You Familiar with BEST Products’ Store Layouts?

Well, by the end of this article, you will be familiar with BEST Products store layouts.

And if this isn’t enough, the music – er, MUSAK – is catchy. So there’s that.

First Architecture, Now Store Layouts!

I swear these documentaries about BEST Products stores just pour out of the woodwork, don’t they?

Last week, we watched a 1979 documentary about incredible feats of experimental concept architecture employed by nine BEST Products stores during the 1970s. We saw buildings with walls that literally removed themselves from the storefront, peeling facades, tilting walls, and a living rainforest.

The architectural feats were a feast for the eyes, but what happened in the store was equally innovative.

Mine had a conveyor belt that came from the upper warehouse, from which products arrived to a happy customer.

Facades of amazingness weren’t the only thing BEST was known for. They also had two different types of store layouts, and thanks to Homeplate Media, those layouts, their pros and cons, and MUZAK make for a great college project video. About Best Products store layouts.

Doesn’t get more exciting than this, folks!

The “SOT”: Store of Tomorrow Vs. Regency

Best Products employed two different store layouts beginning in 1985: “The Store of Tomorrow” (or SOT) and Regency. Each had their advantages and disadvantages. Every store adopted a certain layout.

Admit it, you came to look at blueprints! It is my contribution to “splashy visuals” that draws people in!

In 1990, Youngstown (Ohio) State University college student Ron Flaviano (of the aforementioned Homeplate Media) and fellow classmates made a video explaining each layout, their advantages, and their disadvantages.

Comparisons were drawn for each layout by examining two stores utilizing each layout – one in Parma, Ohio, the other in Niles, Ohio.


Complete with Muzak and the “spontaneous” phone call method perfected on House Hunters (look it up), this video is a total treat.

Would you like to watch it…on one of these TVs?

Of course you do!

Well, you can watch it, but not on these TVs.

BEST Products – Catalog Showroom Comparison

Upload via Homeplate Media (check out this channel!)

And now that you’ve seen both unusual architecture AND creative store layouts, I’ll back off of BEST for a while.

Unless I find something else, because you know how well I do at “backing off a topic.”

Hey, one can never have enough Chicago, David Foster, and Kenny Loggins articles!

Bustin’ Those Blockbuster Video Sales With…Buster Sales!

I swear, you watch two Blockbuster Video commercials you find in your archives, and all of a sudden, you have this burning desire to do another commentary video…

Oh sorry, that sounds so typical of me, doesn’t it?

When Your Personal Blog Articles Coincide With Retroist…

This week, I featured two different Blockbuster Video commercials on Allison’s Written Words…

Wow, What A #ThrowbackThursday!

Wow, What A #FlashbackFriday!

Both commercials reminded me of video store work life…back when video stores were a thing. I worked in a Mom-and-Pop store, in a town that didn’t have Blockbuster until 2003. And even then, it was a small location in a  low-traffic shopping center. By comparison, there were two Mom-and-Pop stores – the one I rented from, and eventually worked at, and another one in a different part of town. Both stores were in high-traffic shopping centers that had pizza places and supermarkets.

I knew Blockbuster was doomed in our town, and not because of its location, but that two other stores with loyal customers were nearby. They did last about five or six years (I believe they closed in 2009), but the one I worked for survived until 2011, two years shy of the small chain’s 30th anniversary (our location was 23 years old at that point).


There was another different between working for Mom-and-Pop versus Blockbuster Video…

Training Via Corporate Training Films

Working for mom-and-pop meant being trained entirely hands-on. Sure, you may have read a manual and signed a few documents, but your training was the good old-fashioned kind. Blockbuster’s approach, and obviously because they are a major corporation (well, they were a major corporation), they had a standard for training employees. And how you do ensure the training is completely in line? Corporate training videos!

But of course!

Blockbuster Video created a series of corporate training videos during its lifespan. I spotted ones from 1989 and 2000, but it is the 1990 version, which teaches the three steps of customer service that create an “opportunity,” that truly stands out.

You know what else stands out? Marie’s hair!

In this corporate training video, we meet Blockbuster Video employee Marie, who is approached/accousted (via television sets throughout the store) by Buster Sales, a wisecracking “Professional Oportunist,” who is ready to guide Marie through the steps that she needs to be a “Professional Opportunist” too.

Whether she likes this or not.

And guess who else is joining you when you watch this fascinating trip through customer service training at its finest?

Some chick in plaid and specs. Ugh, don’t you hate when she just shows up and…

Oh, wait.

Blockbuster (Video) University…Featuring Buster Sales AND Commentary By Allison!

That’s right, I’m bringing back my method of torture by watching the video with you, dropping a comment here and there.

Join me, won’t you, as we learn the three steps to become “Professional Opportunists.”

Wait till you see the gestures that Plaid Specs Chick came up with, they’re so…

Wait, why do I keep making fun of myself?

You know what? Just click play before I get any more self-deprecating.

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

And so, yeah, there you have it. Do you remember the three steps to become a “Professional Opportunist,”according to Corporate Schill – I mean, training mentor, Buster Sales?

Give yourself an “A” for effort, and thank the Corporate Training Video Gods for deciding Roswell, Georgia’s Blockbuster Video (and its Not Real Employee, Marie) were ripe for teaching ’em how its done.

I really have to get back into commentaries again. How am I going to get better at it?

Not the steps listed above, but Practice, Timing, and Confidence.

And now to leave you with something profound…

“you’re like sunshine on a cloudy day.”

Yep, that.

Oh, And About That Video…

There is one thing I talk about from my video store days.  We did have a restricted area called “The Red Room” for adult movies. I did have more than my fair share of men oogle me while they rented. I kept the story as clean as possible. Just don’t want to offend anyone.

It’s also a quick snippet in an otherwise family-friendly work experience story.

Thanks for watching/suffering along/indulging me!

Jim Carrey Nails Alan Thicke in This “In Living Color” Sketch

Because I’m so great at paying proper tribute, and instead focus on parodies:

Prince…For Butt Out Jeans!

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like These “In Living Color” Sketches Parodying Muhammad Ali

If there is a place in hell reserved for people who believe their tributes are well-intentioned, but are actually videos of the recently deceased being parodied on 1990s sketch comedy shows…oh heck, I’ve already reserved my spot there.

Let’s just keep right on going! At this rate, I’ve got nothing to lose.

I found out this morning (the morning that I’m writing this) that Alan Thicke passed away on December 13, 2016. For those of us who grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was the father of the Seaver family on the sitcom Growing Pains. If you’re like me, you watched it. And if you were a teenage girl in the mid-1980s, you probably watched for Kirk Cameron. I was quite young, and my heart already was reserved for Jason Bateman.

Again, if you have ever met me (or grew up during that time), you understand what I’m talking about.

You may or may not know this, but Alan Thicke had a talk show at one time, called Thicke of the Night. It was syndicated by MGM Television and Metromedia (which means it probably aired on what are now Fox stations). It aired from 1983-1984, was 90 minutes (shortened to 60 minutes), and was meant to capitalize on his successful daytime talk show, The Alan Thicke Show. That show enjoyed a much more successful run on Canadian television from 1976 until 1980.

But one thing really bothers me about the show’s swift cancellation…how the theme song didn’t propel it to unbelievable heights?

Uploaded by West Coast 99

You can thank Thicke AND David Foster (yes, THAT David Foster) for co-composing this song. And if you need further proof that anything Foster composes can sound epic, you probably should read this post I wrote. (Yes, I wrote all of those posts. I also wrote this one).

And then his late night talk show happened. It was supposed to be a rival to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (no one seemed to know when to not try to rival The Tonight Show back in the day, did they?), but it flopped. We don’t weep for him, because we know everything turned out fine in the end, and he became the White Cliff Huxtable.

What? You can’t tell me you haven’t drawn that comparison at least once!

Flash forward six years after Thicke of the Night’s cancellation. The year was 1990.

There was a new-ish network, approximately three years old. It had shows that have become pop culture icons today, but in 1990, they were considered edgy and sometimes controversial. The network itself couldn’t even hold a candle to the “Big Three.” Times have changed, but in 1990, it was a whole other network chaste system.

One show from Fox’s early days was the variety show In Living Color, which strived to break down cultural walls and be the primetime version of Saturday Night Live. For a few years, it was pretty good. But then that last season happened, and yeah, it was pretty bad.

In 1990, Jim Carrey was a star on the rise. He was a standout talent whose ability to impersonate not only through voice, but through facial expressions and gestures, made him a force to be reckoned with, if you liked his humor. Not everyone did.

Another way he stood out? He was the only white male on In Living Color, which meant he also had to be able to impersonate famous white male celebrities.

One of those impressions was Alan Thicke.

I knew I hadn’t seen any kind of Alan Thicke impersonation on Saturday Night Live before, but I knew I had seen this take on Thicke guest-hosting The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where Joan Embry brings on one of the rare and exotic species she always specialized in. And wow, Carrey nails his Thicke impression, right down the right perfectly-coiffed wig and voice. Maybe it was that whole Canadian thing, I have no idea.

In this sketch, from the show’s first season, “Joan Embry” brings on the “rare” “Homeboy Sapien Africanas” (forgive me for sounding really white!). I could say more, but you really should see it to believe it.

Uploaded by Ezra Bufford

And after seeing Tommy Davidson wrap (and “Alan Thicke” dance), I’m convinced he probably did this AND invented #whitepeopledancing.

And then Kenny Loggins fans took it a step further.

With all seriousness, rest in peace, Alan Thicke, and thank you for the laughs and being one of those TV dads ’80s babies can remember fondly.

Also remembered fondly?

Uploaded by West Coast 99


Allison 100% admires anyone who can compose songs that people will never get out of their heads. That pretty much follows suit with some of the nostalgia Allison writes about over on her blog, Allison’s Written Words. You can follow her blog on Facebook, and find her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

She’s laughing that you’ll never get that song out of your head.

Oil’s Well (Sierra, 1983)

Oil's Well

In 1983’s Oil’s Well by Sierra (before they were Sierra Online), players control a drill bit and must “devour” pellets of oil. Your drill bit can be broken by hitting land mines and various critters roaming the tunnels beneath the earth. The game is almost identical to another popular game released for home computers in 1983, Datamost’s Ardy the Aardvark, which apparently was based on the 1982 arcade game Anteater.

The dinosaur seen above is Slater the Petrosaur, as seen in the 1990 PC version of the manual. Slater has essentially nothing to do with the game. I guess they just needed a cute mascot to put in the manual for marketing purposes.

Oil’s Well was released for the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, MSX, and the IBM PC. I spent some time playing the Apple II version this week and it’s really addictive. Your drill bit is controlled by the joystick, while the button retracts it quickly. If a critter touches any part of your drill bit it breaks, so getting all the oil located on the bottom levels is quite challenging.

2014-02-06 10.27.54 - Copy

My current “retrocomputing desk” consists of two Raspberry Pi computers, a Commodore 64, an Apple IIe, and a MiST (Amiga and Atari ST) machine. I had hoped to try out a few more games last night but all I did was play Oil’s Well for a couple of hours.

Here’s some footage of the Commodore 64 version of Oil’s Well…

…and here’s some footage from the 1990 MS-DOS version. Keep an eye out for Slater!