August 20 2009, 11:25 AM
When I talk about the four years I lived in Boulder, I always bring up one detail in the town's defense. "Yes, there are loads of rich people and college kids," I'll say. "But Boulder has the best independent video store. Ever." It's true. The Video Station has an innocuous name, and it resides on a nondescript part of 28th Street, where it turns into a strip mall. But inside you'll find the anti-Blockbuster; the shelves are lined with movies you wished you had heard of, and the store clerks lean over the counters, ready to nod at your choices and make suggestions. But it's not a place to rent guilty-pleasure movies. You do not sashay to the counter---after the clerk has just referenced the metaphor in a subtitled French film---and ask for Bride Wars. Which is why I started using Redbox, the red kiosks that beckon with mainstream fare on the way out of Safeway. I scanned the lists of movies, realized I had not wanted to watch The Notebook, then inserted my dollar, guiltily stashing the flick in my purse. I was soon to learn from a friend that I need not pay for my guilty-pleasure Redbox rentals. The company offers a page of free codes to "get more people into their stores and use their services." At the end of a transaction, you'll be prompted to enter a coupon or discount code. Simply type in the code to get your fee waived. (Check the Web site before you rent; the codes often change.) While I'd rather spend my money locally, and my brain could use the challenge of deciphering French metaphors, I'm glad to know I can satiate my need to see Confessions of a Shopaholic---which I rented last Friday---for free.