Sunday, December 11, 2005

Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded

An era of sorts, at least for me, is ending: after years of trouble and several "reinventions", the Media Play chain of stores is going under. This isn't really surprising at all, but I find it kind of a bummer. I adored Media Play when it first opened back in the early 90s -- Media Play's presence in Buffalo actually predated Borders -- but over the years Media Play's prices went up while their selection went down, until at its lowest point a couple of years back, walking into a Media Play felt like walking into a nearly empty warehouse. The chain made a comeback in terms of product selection, and had recently become my outlet of choice for DVDs of movies I couldn't find anyplace else except online, but their prices were still too high. The prices tended to be offset a bit by the gift certificates I'd get in the mail after joining their discount club, and I still liked the store, but I don't think that Media Play ever really got a handle on just what kind of store it was supposed to be as Amazon and other companies grew, and even as Media Play's DVD selection became excellent again, their music and book offerings remained a shell of what they'd once been and their prices, regrettably, remained too high.

I suspect it's too simplistic to blame music downloading as a major source of Media Play's troubles, since Media Play was suffering way before downloading was the avenue of music distribution that it is now, but I still have to admit to being bothered that more and more people just want to go online to buy the music and movies and books they want, or, failing that, stay within five minutes of their house. Doesn't anybody like to hang around in a store anymore, and browse through racks, often finding things you never would have thought to look for on your own? When did walking around while shopping become a quaint concept? Does anybody else find this inexorable march toward One Stop Shopping for everything in our lives just a little bit depressing?

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