In a lot of ways, Hastings Entertainment in Conroe WAS my 20s. For a pop culture geek in the early-to-mid 2010s, there was no better hangout. It was a megastore the size of Best Buy that sold books, music, movies, collectibles, magazines AND was the last video rental store around, not to mention it had an on-site coffee shop. This was my Friday-night college hangout. It's where I bought all of my copies of Rue Morgue, not to mention a ton of obscure horror and b-movies, and was how I kept up with new indy films coming out. I found myself having my very first phone-meeting with Rue Morgue in Hastings' hardback cafe, which introduced me to a variety of wonderful coffees. With its' diverse selection, I'd hoped Hastings would sort of last forever, and that even with my moving away, it'd still be there waiting for me on my visits home; but, nothing does last, does it?
In a way, Hastings really ceased to be a few months ago, when the announcement was made that the company was bankrupt and a liquidation firm was taking over. The ambiance was gone and the new employees were hostile and edgy. Still, when I found out when the doors would close for good, I had to come back one last time to say goodbye. I'm glad I did; the final visit was weirdly serene, and even though most of the store was literally gone, it felt like there was still one last burning ember left of its' former glory. In a small but significant way, the ambiance and spirit of Hastings broke through in those final days to give an appropriate goodbye to those who'd loved it.
The sad closing of Hastings last Saturday, in a way I hope record store junkies understand, marked the end of a period of my life. With the growing domination of online shopping and digital media, there'll never really be a place like it again.
You take sadly few photos of the places that mean something to you. Even if your photo albums are filled with pictures of friends and family, odds are there'll be scant examples of hangouts or places of significance. You go there and enjoy the company of friends or you soak up the atmosphere and you don't think you'll want a concrete memory not of the moment or the people but of the PLACE when the day comes it's no longer there. Over the past three years, I got occasional glimpses of Hastings in photos of my (and Kayleigh, and Brian's) Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon excursions. I'm glad I did. They're a brief but wonderful testament to a great time in my life-- and just as important, a great place.
RIP Hastings. You'll be missed.