Monday, August 16, 2010

Blockbuster, a loss for Adams Morgan

Here are a few of things that were wrong with the Blockbuster in Adams Morgan.

-- From time to time, areas in the store had to be roped off because of water leaking from the ceiling.

-- If the line was long, checking out a disk could take, it seemed, forever.

-- A rental cost more than a rental download off iTunes.

-- You needed to clean the DVD before using it if you wanted to watch uninterrupted.

But I will really miss the place.

A sign announcing its closing was put up Sunday.

Everybody knew this coming. Ever since Blockbuster closed its 17th Street store in October last year, it was clear what was going on.

Blockbuster, the company, is a mess. The stock was selling for about 14 cents this morning, down from its dizzying heights of $1.50 last year. It was delisted this year from the New York Stock Exchange.

This rental store was a favorite. I often stopped in there at night when the apartment was feeling claustrophobic. The selection was tiny compared to online, but its physical displays invited serendipity, exploration and escape.

In the winter, you could duck in there to wait for the bus. Nobody seemed to mind.

No one complained if you left without buying a thing.

Over time I learned who on the staff might be willing to share an opinion of a movie.

For Adams Morgan itself, the loss of this prominent retail store adds to its emerging retail identity crisis for this neighborhood.

U Street and 14th are getting a wonderful mix of retail and restaurants. There’s a real balance to what’s going to there. But the weight of Adams Morgan is to nightlife catering to the under 30 crowd.

There are a few wonderful exceptions, Idle Time books, some eclectic record stores and what not. Some interesting home furnishing stores. A new wine shop, and coffee houses.

Adams Morgan has a lively pedestrian vibe to it, especially on the weekends when everyone is out and about running errands. The community feeling is very powerful, eclectic, and at its core, has a tremendous amount of energy to it.

But the neighborhood’s business environment feels as if it is in a rut and moving in a quirky, uncertain direction.

Retail stores aren’t being replaced and my worry is that the Blockbuster will end up like Miss Pixie’s (which move to 14th more a year ago now) vacant.


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