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Columbia House Video Club

Back in 1997, I was fourteen years old and a movie fanatic. DVDs weren’t quite on the scene yet, but I was doing everything I could to grow my VHS collection. One summer, while visiting my grandmother, I noticed the Columbia House advertisement where you could get seven VHS tapes for a penny very similar to this one.

I used to love these sorts of advertisements. I’d rip out the page and spend an hour circling and categorizing what I would order. My step-sister actually signed up for Columbia House CDs a year prior, and of course, that turned out to be a horrible situation. She was under the belief she just needed to send in a dollar (or penny) and she got her handful of CDs. Then of course, they started sending her a CD a month and a bill, and she had to fess up to my parents what she had done. It turned into a huge ordeal and I knew I’d never have a chance to take advantage of such an offer myself.

Still, I daydreamed. This particular day, I was enamored by the listing of The Godfather trilogy on VHS.

A couple years prior, I was introduced to Star Wars thanks to their THX VHS editions and now The Godfather had gotten the same treatment. I was of course familiar with the franchise, but I had never seen the movies. I figured if I was going to watch them, I might as well watch them in the best condition available, which would be the newly released THX VHS editions.

I fiddled around with the sign up sheet for so long, my grandmother took notice. She understood the risks and the scam that was Columbia House, but she also understood my love of movies. So, she agreed to let me place an order. Once the tapes arrived, she would ship them to me in Texas where I lived.

I wish I could remember all seven tapes I ordered with the first order, but I don’t. I do know that it included all three Godfather films and Dragonheart. Shortly there after, the tapes that they sent my grandmother automatically were Scream and Men in Black. So, over all, I had a pretty damn nice selection of tapes to watch and ones that I would re-watch for years to come.

Recently, I’ve had the urge to re-watch Men in Black, a movie I haven’t seen since the late 90’s, but one I used to watch quite often. I was thinking back to my VHS copy when this memory suddenly unlocked. It was a fond memory of some time spent with my grandmother and one of the few times my VHS collection grew suddenly with actual new tapes.

Published inMovies


  1. Man I got in so much trouble with Columbia House. I loved the start up deals. However I would forget they sent a new cd/vhs monthly. My grandparents put a stop to it all quickly lol

  2. My dad used to belong to both of those clubs back when they still sold you records. I remember telling him that they get new releases pretty late and to just buy them at the store. We never belonged to any video one though. I love looking at the old ads for these like a little snapshot in movies or music. I used to use the music ones for school projects and cut out the little CD covers.

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