One of the first chain video stores in the U.S., Family Video, is actually still around, with hundreds of locations throughout the country. In recent years, they have benefited from a little free advertising in the form of appearances on Netflix's Stranger Things. Set in the '80s, the series picked Family Video to be the company that rents movies in the town of Hawkins, effectively giving the company a series of small product placements, rather than going with something like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video, which may be familiar to more viewers but lack the small town charm that Family Video has built into its brand.
One of the things that fans have looked for, apparently, is the green employee vest worn by Keith (Matty Cardarople) in season three of Stranger Things. And now, it's available to buy...from Family Video itself.
Recently, we spoke with Alexandra Beaton, who runs social media for Family Video, about the company's #SaveTheVideoStore hashtag, which they are using to raise awareness of the plight currently staring down not just Family Video but virtually all remaining video stores in the face of the economic pressures of the pandemic.
"People forget the video store exists; they can't believe it's still around," Alexandra Beaton, who runs the company's social media accounts, told ComicBook.com during a conversation today. "Blockbuster got back on Twitter in August because of that pop-up with AirBnB. We saw so much chatter and activity and so much of it was what? You're still around?' We need to get in front of people and say yes, we're still here, and there is a local video store for you in so many places, so let's get them all together and see what we can do."
During that conversation, Beaton joked that when the vests showed up on Stranger Things, nobody at the company could even remember whether they had been real uniforms or whether it was something made up for the show. But either way, as of now, you can pre-order your very own for just under $35. It's an opportunity to gear up for the next installment of Stranger Things while supporting one of the handful of real companies in Hawkins that hasn't gone under yet.
"Especially now, if you're making the trip to a video store, you want a human connection," Beaton said. "You want to nerd out with the person working there about your favorite movie. You want to talk to the person who's sitting in the horror section about what they would recommend. Conversations with strangers is something that we don't get a lot of now, since it's been replaced by social media, but there's something special about the aspect of community and the kind of happenstance too that you find at the video store."
The fourth season of Stranger Things is expected to drop on Netflix in the summer of 2021.