Film buffs bring Blockbuster nostalgia to St. Pete
Thanks to a local couple’s passion for movies, long-gone evening trips to the local Blockbuster could once again become a ritual for St. Petersburg residents.
Angela and Trevor Anderson installed the city’s first Little Free Blockbuster media stand last month. Trevor is a filmmaker with a studio in Clearwater, and teaches cinematography at a local high school.
He also once worked for Blockbuster Video, and the husband and wife duo has well over 2,000 movies in their collection, according to Angela. The Andersons decided to increase entertainment access at the neighborhood level – like the hundreds of Little Free Libraries that dot St. Petersburg.
“We just wanted to share our love of film with the community,” Angela said. “We really love movies, so we wanted to make sure the stuff we put out there was good, too.”
The Andersons considered starting a Little Free Library, a convenient way for children and adults to access literature without leaving the neighborhood. These soared in popularity through the pandemic. However, someone had already installed one near their home on Kingston Street North, between 34th and 38th Avenues.
Trevor then stumbled upon Free Blockbuster online, a nonprofit organization with over 160 international locations. While most are in the U.S., Canada is home to several, and the website lists one in Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Angela found a Little Free Library on Amazon for $150. The apparatus can store DVDs, VHS tapes, video games, music and DVD players..
“Not a bad deal for what we got,” Angela said. “And then we just picked up some paint and made some decals. The Blockbuster stuff we got from (the organization).”
Trevor’s mother donated five banana crates of DVDs left over from her store at the former Wagon Wheel Flea Market. Their box holds about 30, and they have plenty to keep it stocked.
Angie said they periodically switch out the collection “to keep it fresh” and encourage people to take a movie and leave one. Returns are optional, and late fees are nonexistent.
The Andersons try to keep a good mix of genres stocked, and ratings typically don’t exceed PG-13. A recent Facebook photo shows films ranging from The Lego Movie to The Departed.
The couple also tries to ensure the Little Free Blockbuster features some “gems,” or quality movies that never made it to the mainstream.
“We’ve gotten two or three movies out of there that even I’ve never heard of,” Trevor added. “Like, ‘oh wow, this is cool.’
“It’s nice to see other people’s favorite selections end up in there and become our new favorites.”
Business – so to speak – is already brisk. Angela said their neighbors don’t seem to mind, and the Andersons don’t worry about thieves.
Trevor explained that if someone took all the movies and received a few dollars for each, then they must really need the money. In addition, he said that would still get films into someone else’s hands, the ultimate goal.
Trevor recalled seeing a man exit a nice car Tuesday, who took some pictures, shuffled through the box and found a movie to take home. He said that is what they want, for people to notice a film they may have heard about but never watched and seize the opportunity.
“I feel like there’s a real benefit to that, as opposed to going home and looking at a Netflix menu for 20 minutes,” Trevor said. “Trying to make a decision with a small selection becomes a lot easier.”
While they enjoy and have nothing against streaming, the possibility that stopping by the Little Free Library could become a new ritual thrills the Andersons. They noted that not everything is on the internet and bemoaned Disney putting classics in “the vault.”
Trevor also noted that watching audio commentary and behind-the-scenes footage, often included in DVDs but not on streaming applications, was beneficial as a burgeoning filmmaker. He said “seeing how the sausage is made” could spur interest in young film fans.
The Andersons mentioned how there are now Little Free Pantries and said people need food and entertainment to get through life. Like the Little Free Libraries, they hope to start a new trend that provides movies throughout St. Petersburg.
“We’ve got such a great response from our community,” Angela said. “It’s been wonderful.”
As a filmmaker and teacher, Trevor also hopes to increase support and kinship among the city’s cinephiles. “Our life kind of revolves around it,” Angela added with a laugh.
For more information on Free Blockbuster St. Pete, visit the Facebook page here.