Thursday, May 5, 2011

Redbox Exits Downtown El Cajon

The ground at the Broadway 7-Eleven where a Redbox once stood
My husband took the kids on a walk a couple of nights ago and noticed that Redbox machines at two locations that we've used in the past are both now missing: the 7-Eleven at 895 Broadway and the Food 4 Less down the street at 444 Broadway. He had his eye out for these boxes, because he thought it would be fun to check out Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster for our Scooby-Doo fanatic son.

The outdoor Redbox at Food 4 Less has left its mark.

While I don't have much time to do in-depth investigation, I had my interest piqued, and so I have done a little poking around since then. Yesterday, I purposely stopped for coffee before work so that I could I ask a clerk at the Broadway 7-Eleven what happened to the Redbox machine. He said the reason for its removal was "vandalism." According to the clerk, the machine had had its screen smashed in three times since it was installed, and so one day, a Redbox employee just drove up, started emptying the movies from the machine, and then took the whole kiosk itself.

After being dismayed by this story, I checked the Redbox website to verify that both the Browadway 7-Eleven and Food 4 Less locations were no longer showing up as available. I am pretty sure that both establishments were indeed absent from the Redbox locator map, and my next step was to contact Redbox customer service online to inquire about the removal of these locations. Within a few hours, I received a generic response of: "Thank you for your e-mail. Your comments, suggestions & business are important to us. I will share the information you have provided with the appropriate parties."

The reason why I say that "I am pretty sure" that both locations were removed is because this morning when I checked the map again, I was surprised to find that today there is a listing for Food 4 Less on Broadway that indicates "Indoor." I either missed that yesterday--which is entirely possible--or it is lucky timing that I noticed the change. Or, perhaps the Redbox customer service was super quick to respond to my inquiry!

Whatever the case may be, the fact that the Redbox at Food 4 Less, which was once outside the store, is now inside does support a theory that Redbox is trying to find ways to avert vandals. But, if this is the case, is all of El Cajon's downtown really that bad? This morning, to do a little extra research, I went to the 7-Eleven at the corner of Main and Avocado. At this location, too, you can see an outline in the cement where a Redbox used to stand.

No Redbox locations in Downtown El Cajon: Confirmed
Expecting to hear another story about vandalism, I asked the clerk at this 7-Eleven what happened to the Redbox, but she had a different answer. According to her, Redboxes have been removed from "all of Downtown El Cajon." She heard it had something to do with the company not having the correct license or permit. Is this perhaps the case, then? If so, I would feel a lot better knowing that the machines have been removed because of legal restrictions, and not because of rampant vandalism.

The whole idea that a profit-minded company would flee my hometown because the area is deemed too rough is a scary prospect. After all, even though the 7-Eleven on Broadway may have had its screen smashed in several times, I'm sure that it still had to have made money. Whenever driving by, we'd often notice a line of people in front of the kiosk. Even my own my own family enjoys using Redbox, despite the fact that we also subscribe to Netflix.

We are self-admittedly big suckers for any kind of vending machine, and Redbox vends out new release DVDs when we need to fulfill our on-a-whim, movie-watching itch. The movies are well-priced at just a dollar since we always return movies after one night, and we love the convenience of being able to pick-up and drop-off videos at any location. Of course, for whatever the reason may be, the whole convenience factor now has to be amended to read, "pick-up and drop-off at any location outside of Downtown El Cajon."


  1. I also noticed the Redbox was missing from the 7-11 on 2nd Street Monday night, but didn't give it much thought (I don't use that one often). However, this morning I stopped at a different 7-11 (Fletcher Parkway, near Navajo) and they had several very large hand-made signs in the window where their Redbox normally sits. The signs indicated that all Redboxes have been removed at the behest of El Cajon city government and had contact information for the mayor's office. That may lend some credence to the story about permit problems, but it's odd that it's taken several years for the issue to come up.

  2. Yes, my guess is that there is a problem with the machines being located outside since there are still some locations that have them inside.

  3. A rat can't fart in El Cajon without getting the proper permit.

  4. my feeling is someone's making money and the city of el cajon don't like it. waddddda ya wannnna bet i'm right ??