When video stores were king: The legacy of Showtime Video

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Showtime Video was a family-owned DVD rental store for nearly 20 years before unceremoniously closing on New Year’s Eve 2009. Get the scoop on why its legacy endures for this movie aficionado. Seen above, Showtime Video employee Beverly Foss, co-owner Vicki Cole, Karlee Walden [Vicki’s grand-daughter], original owner Leon Durrance [Vicki’s father], and Karla Walden [Vicki’s daughter] say goodbye on the business’s closing day on December 31, 2009, in Nashville, Georgia. Photography by Jeremy Roberts

Showtime Video was a DVD rental store that served the entertainment needs of Nashville, Georgia, residents for nearly 20 years. Closing with scant fanfare on New Year’s Eve 2009, its legacy nevertheless endures for movie aficionados.

The family-owned South Georgia business, located at the time of its resolution behind McDonald’s near Highway 129, was launched on November 22, 1990, on the east side of the town square also housing the historic Berrien Courthouse by Betty Jean Durance and daughter Vicki Cole.

In the late ’80s, mother and daughter worked at a defunct video store called Silver Screen. One day they proposed a risky decision — why not seize the bull by the balls and earn more profits? Their idyllic American dream soon transformed into reality.

During Showtime’s heyday, there were five competing video stores in the rural county seat consisting of 5,000 folks, yet Showtime and Movie Gallery were the only sustaining victors. Ironically, Movie Gallery closed within months of Showtime. When deteriorating lungs forced Durance to retire prematurely, devoted husband Leon took up the slack and co-operated the business with his daughter.

Customers dropping by the store would be greeted by the friendly four-generational family, which grew to include Karla Cole Walden, her daughter Karlee, and employee Beverly Foss. Renting movies recently vacated from the big screen, unearthing classic films for $1.50, or renting video games became fun activities for the entire family.

The business remained at its original site until late 2002, relocating to a much larger building adjacent to Harveys’ Supermarket. By April 2009 a sluggish economy forced Showtime to move to its final destination. Netflix, countless cable and satellite movie channels, YouTube, and streaming also contributed to the business’s decline.

Going to Showtime was often the best aspect of traveling to Nashville to complete a list of errands. It was easy to get lost for an hour or more in the inviting atmosphere while your waiting mom grew more agitated by the minute. Time was suspended and problems evaporated while browsing the profusion of VHS’s. Obscure titles were rarely, if ever, given DVD or Blu-Ray upgrades by Hollywood studios.

The history of film cinema and pop culture was always within grasp. You never knew exactly what you might stumble upon, whether a classic ’60s Disney family film, a Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther screwball comedy, a patriotic John Wayne World War II epic, a romantic romp with Doris Day or Marilyn Monroe, a hard-hitting drama with Jimmy Stewart or real life pal Henry Fonda, an action-packed thriller featuring the stone-faced Charles Bronson, or an obscure Western starring Audie Murphy.

Incidentally, I rented 95 percent of the Westerns housed in the store’s mighty arsenal, especially those made from the 1940s into the mid-’70s. And guess how I rewarded myself upon high school graduation? That’s right, an extended visit to Showtime.

While Showtime Video is swiftly becoming a distant memory, its impact on yours truly cannot be underestimated. Kudos to my dad for being guilty as charged for introducing me to Showtime when I was barely four years old. Sure, the Internet offer instant convenience, but actually visiting a brick and mortar location and leaving with a previously unexpected treasure is a gratifying accomplishment that future generations will sadly never experience.

© Jeremy Roberts, 2010, 2018. All rights reserved. To touch base, email jeremylr@windstream.net and mention which story led you my way. I appreciate it sincerely.

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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