I’m not quite sure what stirred the nostalgia in me last week, but I felt compelled to drop ‘Power Ranking Old Physical Media Stores into our #articleideas channel over on the SoBros Slack. Maybe it was the state of the world we live in today that had me pining for the comforts of my childhood. Regardless, it had me thinking about which ones were truly my favorites. And though the bulk of the great physical media chains of the 1990s have since gone under, maybe somebody somewhere will get ahold of this post and say, “damn, we did something good back in the day.” Or, maybe you’re like me, and you’re just hunting for a reason to go down the nostalgia rabbit hole. Either way, come on in.
Now, an important distinction here…Blockbuster Video came up in conversation a couple of times. But, I’m not counting it in the same vein as these other retail icons of the 90s. For what reason? Well, I know you could buy some movies there, but I always felt as though Blockbuster (and Hollywood Video, for that matter) had the distinction of a rental store. It’s not necessarily the same thing. Now, was going to the video store, renting a few movies, and picking up a pizza the preeminent TGIF night in the 90s? Yes. It gets that honor. But, I didn’t include the rental spots in today’s conversation. Also, for anyone who may be reading this in my hometown of Mount Juliet, Tennessee and grew up here in the 90s, let’s pour one out for our very own Mount Juliet Video and Comics. Now, onto my top five!
Power Ranking Old Physical Media Stores
5. Suncoast – I could only afford Suncoast prices when stuff I wanted went to clearance, or if I was feeling particularly wealthy on a given day. It was the more luxurious of the physical media stores, and that meant that I did far more window-shopping there than actual shopping. Nonetheless, I would never deny their capacity to have a rich, deep selection of films and of course, wrestling tapes. Also FYI, there is still a Suncoast open in New Jersey.
4. CD Warehouse – I absolutely loved it. I never took CDs there to cash in because I loved collecting them and didn’t want to part with any of ’em. But, man…you would find the most random shit there, and it would be dirt cheap. I can remember times when I’d buy five or six CDs and not even crack $20. It felt like bargain bin yard sale shopping. To this day, I have no idea how CD Warehouse was in business for as long as it was.
3. Tower Records – Tower Records was where we went before movies on Friday nights at Opry Mills as a teenager. Though Hot Topic got most of my money from buying patches for my backpack and fucking wristbands…of all things, I was a wrist band guy, yeah…., whenever I got a dollar ahead, I could find virtually any CD that I wanted in Tower Records.
2. Hastings – Honestly, I could probably flip my top two if it wasn’t for proximity. The nearest Hastings to me was Murfreesboro, so I didn’t go to it a whole lot whenever I was growing up. Not that it was much further than anything else – we just didn’t go. The thing I loved about Hastings was always the used section because you just never knew what you were going to find. It had that ‘CD Warehouse’ quality for books and movies.
1. Media Play – I have fond, fond memories of Media Play growing up. Specifically, it was the Hickory Hollow location…man, whenever we had some real time to kill, you could disappear into that place. It felt like a sort of mecca of physical media. From CDs to DVDs to action figures and anything in between, Media Play had it all. The best part was that you had all the experience of a massive media store, but the prices always felt a little more reasonable than your Tower Records or Suncoast outlets. Oh, and Brandon also had a job at Media Play when we were teenagers and sometimes he’d bring home movie posters they used for promotion, and I’d tack ’em up on my ceiling. Those were the good old days.
If you’re still into physical media, check out our friends at Danger Zone Video out here in Mount Juliet. Brittany, Jesse, and Wednesday do a fantastic job of drawing on those old school media store vibes, and there’s always something new to marvel at whenever I go in there. So stoked to have them right down the road from me!
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley.
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