The Wally World For Movie Lovers

The scene is Super Bowl LVII. Football fans are excited about the top two teams battling it out. Music aficionados are pumped about Rihanna performing the halftime show. Everyone anticipates the advertising bling. The chips are in bowls, the chili is simmering, and the drinks are on ice. Then, a teaser on social media about the first Blockbuster video commercial in years, and the nation’s curiosity is piqued.

The lead-up, the delivery, and the simple but brilliant short show us that there is room for the little guy – video rental giant turned mom and pop store – in 21st-century advertising. 

Right around the same time, my wife and I had been talking about taking our girls away for March break. Cuba, perhaps? Mexico? Florida even? 

“How about an RV trip?” I asked my wife. 

I posed the question that afternoon to our girls. It was a rare unanimous ‘Yes!’

With the plane tickets and RV booked, it was time to start researching our stops along the way from Hollywood to the Grand Canyon and, of course, Bend.

I see similarities between my city of almost 600,000 residents, and Bend’s 100,000 but most notable, is an influx of people from out of town putting down roots in our communities. For Bend, you’ve seen an almost 50% increase in population over 13 years and for my hometown, people from Toronto are falling in love with the transformation of our steel town in droves. Both of our residents are feeling the effects of this progress.

Our downtown cores share similar views, each surrounded by tree-lined mountains. Our city is also known for many craft breweries, and a few of our old theatres have been given new life in recent years as well – not unlike your Tower Theatre. My wife and I officially blended our family at one of them.

Both Bend and Hamilton offer stunning views from our lookout points, although our scenery is mostly the tops of houses and smoke billowing from our steel factories, back dropped in the distance by Lake Ontario and further still on a clear day, the Toronto skyline.

None of that is why we are really choosing Bend over hot sands and crystal clear waters. Our trip is about nostalgia. It’s inspired by a video rental store. The last one of its kind – a landmark that begs the question, what do these points of interest mean to locals, and what is the part they play in attracting tourism?

Before this commercial, I had never heard of Bend. When I dreamed of taking our kids on that one big vacation before they head off to college, a road trip through partially wintery west coast America wasn’t what I had in mind. I am sure my winter-wary wife is wondering how the idea of a big family trip turned into 15 days crammed into an RV, cooking every day, resting your head on the wall in front of you while using the restroom, and sleeping on thin mattresses, instead of all the amenities of an all-inclusive resort. 

As I anticipate our stop on North Revere Avenue, I can’t help but think about our local amenities such as long-standing restaurants, historical buildings, and other attractions that I wish I had known were in trouble, so that the community might have had a chance to preserve their presence. This includes the last local video store to close shop after 30 years in 2018.

I was a recently single dad who could barely rub two Loonies together the last time my girls and I rented a movie. I’m remarried now. This will be the first time our blended family has gone to a video rental store together.

“I want to tell my kids that I went on an RV trip to see the last Blockbuster when I was a teen.” ~ Abigail

A family RV trip through partially wintery west coast USA. What could go wrong?

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