Whenever people talk about old movie rental stores that everyone use to shop at, the biggest that comes to mind is Blockbuster. Which makes since because Blockbuster was the biggest rental company in the United States for two decades and it's usually the one people have their childhood memories attached to the most. But the one movie rental store that I rarely ever hear people talk about anymore and seems to have been forgotten is Movie Gallery.
Movie Gallery was a movie and game rental company founded in Dothan, Alabama. The company rented and sold Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, VHS tapes, and video games. It's main headquarters was in Dothan, and later built in Wilsonville, Oregon.
It started out in the 1980's as a small video specialty store that was only open in certain areas. As the 1990's rolled in, the expansion and popularity of Movie Gallery grew and by the Late 1990's, it became one of the biggest movie and game rental companies in the United States along with Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, with over 950 stores open in the US. By the Early 2000's, Movie Gallery became the largest movie and game rental company ever only behind Blockbuster, with over 4,700 stores open worldwide.
Movie Gallery was my favorite place to rent movies and games as a kid back in the 1990's, and it continued to be my favorite rental place in the Early to Mid 2000's.
The store always had a much better selection of movies than Blockbuster and their prices for movies and games were much cheaper too. They always a wide variety of VHS tapes and DVD's in stock to choose from and were always up to date with the latest movies, games, and technology. It was also great place to search for older movies and games that you were looking for. The customer service was good and the employees there were nice and helpful if you needed help finding anything.
I continued to shop there until 2007, when I finally got my first wide-screen TV and got On Demand and started ordering movies there instead.
The company began having financial difficulties and announced the closure of 520 stores in September 2007. At the time Movie Gallery had about 4,500 locations. The next month, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Because of these troubles, the stock price dropped below $1 per share and was removed from listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange in November 2007.
An additional 400 stores were scheduled to close during the bankruptcy reorganization. Movie Gallery emerged from Chapter 11 in May 2008 and appointed C. J. Gabriel, Jr. as the new chief executive officer. Founder and former CEO Joe Malugen continued to serve on the Movie Gallery Board of Directors until leaving on July 30, 2008. The company relocated its headquarters to Wilsonville, Oregon, (home of the Hollywood Video subsidiary) in Late 2008. In January 2009, they closed their Wilsonville distribution center.
In 2009, all of the Movie Galleries in my town went out of business and were all put up for foreclosure. Before the local Movie Gallery near my house closed down, I went there one more time to rent a movie, knowing it would be the last time I would ever step foot in that place.
On February 3, 2010, Movie Gallery again filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and on April 30, 2010, it was announced that all the existing stores left would all close down and Movie Gallery would officially go out of business for good.
I know times changed, and things like Free On Demand, online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and Redbox killed the need for movie rental stores...but if there is one chain of the video rental store era that I wish was able to survive, it's Movie Gallery. I was just so sad to see a store I loved going to so much during my childhood die out so quickly. Movie Gallery went from being the second largest movie and game rental company behind Blockbuster to not even being around anymore a few years later. It was one of those stores that got big so quick...than BAM!!!...it was gone.
I miss driving around in my car and seeing Movie Galleries in my city.