According to the article in linked to below, in just two months, Japanese book / DVD / CD / game rental and sales chain Tsutaya has closed over 29 shops across Japan.
Now on to my thoughts on this spankfest.
In 2013 there were nearly 1500 Tsutaya stores nationwide, so while this is hardly a deathblow, it is evident that the brick-and-mortal-rental business is losing ground to disruptive competitors such as Amazon and Netflix (which has only recently began to gain purchase in Japan).
Consequently, the company has sought to diversify its business with book cafes, collaborations with municipalities to develop state-of-the-art libraries, a larger online presence, and even a venture into collaborative loyalty programs with their T-point card (essentially a credit / point card that consumers can use at Tsutaya and other domestic partner stores).
It's somewhat sad to see what may be the beginning of wider closures, much as it was to see Blockbuster go under years ago. Rental chains have been dead in North America for years, but I sometimes pine for that inconvenient but nostalgic experience of heading to the store to pick up an N64 game for the weekend.
Well, we'll see what the future holds for Tsutaya.
PS: The very first Tsutaya store opened in 1983 as "TSUTAYA BOOKS". That's quite a while ago, eh?
PPS: I bought my second PS3 at Tsutaya in 2011 (because I foolishly left PS3 No.1 in Canada D: ). A warm memory that flickers in the cold darkness of that year's Hokkaido winter.
Do you feel nostalgic for the rental chain experience?