Growing up in the 80s, video rental stores were plentiful and a vital function of any families Friday night. I remember it being a BIG deal to get to the video store early enough on a Friday (or even the night before) to get a hot new release before they were all gone. My family mainly went to either mom and pop video stores or my favorite – Music+Plus. Eventually every neighborhood business realized the market for video rentals and got in on it – even our local Lucky grocery store added a video rental component.
Sadly, we never rented any movies from out local Wherehouse Music Store. Not to say I never went there – I visited the location at the Westminster Mall quite frequently to buy records/cassettes/CD’s (and I remember them at the time being one of the only places that had a decent buy-back policy for your used items.) But now that I think about it – I don’t remember my local Wherehouse having a movie rental program. It was probably because it was in a mall and video renting was supposed to be a convenience. And I’m thinking that’s why we rented from Music+Plus – it was in a stand-alone building with a big parking lot, right by McDonalds, and across the way from one of my Dad’s favorite liquor stores.
Before we get balls deep into The Wherehouse Frequent Rental Program, I DO have a personal story about renting movies from the Wherehouse. I remember my younger brother and I went and stayed a weekend with an Aunt (like 30 years ago) and she let us rent some movies from The Wherehouse. I don’t remember what I selected, but I DO remember what my then-six-year old brother picked out – the horror movie PIECES. He thought it was just a typical “scary” movie, not realizing how bad it really was. So, of course, he put it on and then instantly fell asleep, leaving me to watch this fucking movie. And to this day, the only part I remember is when the chick pisses herself before getting slaughtered with a chainsaw.
Thank you Wherehouse!
Let’s get to the prizes:
So let’s say you do rent PIECES 200 times and now you get to pick a prize. You’re allowed to save them to get something better and I think I would. As much as I love Tom Selleck, I wouldn’t want to watch PIECES 200 times just to get a subscription to (probably) The Wherehouse’s in-store movie magazine. The next level (400 PIECES rentals) is slightly better – the SONY Dream Machine alarm clock is pretty nice. Oh yeah – most prizes are SONY products, so they had some kind of deal with the Wherehouse. Let’s go to the next prize level:
Ok, we’re getting slightly better prizes for our 600 PIECES rentals. Shower radios are ALWAYS pieces of shit, so don’t even consider that. I would pick the SONY Walkman and then go buy better headphones. The next level (800 PIECES rentals) is not that much better than the 1500 point level. The SPORTS series of SONY Products were just a grab at more money and not any better than regular SONY products. Maybe I would get the remote control extender, just so I can control ALL TWO of my components from any room in the house?
Next prize level, please:
Despite saving up enough points from 1200 PIECES rentals, I would pass on ALL of these. The only prize I miiiiiiiiight take is the dual deck boom box so I can make some mix tapes. All of these prizes are weak considering the amount of tape rentals you need to get here. Let’s save our points and move on:
At 1600 PIECES rentals, now we’re talking! That SONY WATCHMAN is impressive! Your boyfriend can take it along to the drive-in so he can watch the game while you’re watching Top Gun (because he doesn’t like that “pussy shit”.) I also like that cordless phone – I wonder if it’s as aerodynamic as that phone Tony Curtis threw at that guy?
Fuuuuuuuck! A SONY Discman? That’s so worth the 2400 PIECES rentals! Or that boombox that has everything – MEGA bass, a CD player, and a tape deck? Even that camera looks pretty legit. The VHS Videocassette Recorder looks a little too high-tech for me, but I’m sure it would make a bitchin’ gift. Can the prizes get any better?
Let’s check out THE LAST LEVEL OF PRIZES:
Ok, now I can officially piss myself (see picture above.) After 4000 PIECES RENTALS, I can get me a home computer. Wait – what are those little monitor things? SONY STILL IMAGE TRANCEIVERS! Fuck the computer – I can actually use these to see who I’m talking to on the phone! Sarcasm aside, when I first saw these things, I assumed that they didn’t exist or were prototypes, because I’ve never seen or heard about them (and I’m fairly knowledgeable about retro tech). THAT’S why I thought the points program might have been unattainable from the get-go, like they put the fake products at the highest point level to be impressive and to encourage people to rent as much as possible to get these Jetson-esque tranceivers, knowing that they’ll NEVER ever get them.
But guess what….
They DO exist. I found a listing for them on eBay.
Well cut me into a bunch of pieces with a chainsaw!
From what I’ve read, they started in Japan as a way to get real-time (or as close as possible) photos to television newscasters. So they’re NOT like video – just sending pics while you talk.
So was The Wherehouse Frequent Rental Program worth it? In my opinion – no. The amount of videos you would have to rent to obtain any of that is ridiculous – you can buy ALL of that for less than the cumulative price of the videos. I would have rather been able to get free popcorn or free rentals.
Or maybe some Reeses PIECES?
Ha! I kill me.
BONUS: Here are some