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Posts Tagged ‘Blockbuster’

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Photo: Ryan Brennecke/The Bulletin, via Associated Press
The Blockbuster store in Bend, Ore., has 4,000 account holders and adds a few new ones every day.

As people turn away from “old media” toward ever evolving “new media,” the oldsters who are able to hang on sometimes do really well. That seems to be the case in this Last One Standing story.

Tiffany Hsu of the New York Times wrote in March, “There are only two Blockbuster stores left in the world. Very soon, there will only be one.

“The second-to-last Blockbuster, a squat blue-and-yellow slab wedged next to a real estate agency in Western Australia, will stop renting videos on [March 7] and shut down for good at the end of the month. Two stores in Alaska, part of the final group of Blockbuster outlets in the United States, closed in July.

“That will make the Blockbuster in Bend, Ore., one of a kind: a corporate remnant, just off the highway, near a cannabis retailer and a pet cremation service.

“But this is no elegy for Blockbuster, no lament for how Netflix killed the video star. … This is about the ability of the Bend store, like sturdy links in other dying chains, to live on and avoid being turned into a pawnshop or a fast-food restaurant.

“Some Tower Records stores still thrive in Japan long after their parent company declared bankruptcy and closed all of its American stores. There is a Howard Johnson’s in Lake George, N.Y., that is the lone survivor of what was once the country’s largest restaurant chain. Such holdouts have bucked the norm in the retail and restaurant industries, which have shed stores by the hundreds in recent years. …

“When Sandi Harding, the general manager of Bend’s Blockbuster store, heard that she would be running what is effectively the Lonesome George of video-rental chains, she posted a giddy message on Facebook: ‘Holy Cow it’s exciting.’

“The Bend store became a Blockbuster franchise in 2000. It has about 4,000 active accounts and signs up a few fresh ones each day, Ms. Harding said. Some of the new customers are tourists who have traveled hours out of their way to stop in. …

“ ‘It’s almost re-energized us, that we’re the last one,’ Ms. Harding said in an interview. ‘They treat us like celebrities.’

“A local beer maker, 10 Barrel Brewing, crafted a special beer, the Last Blockbuster, and served it at a party at the store. Two filmmakers raised nearly $40,000 on Kickstarter to finish a documentary about the location.

“One possible explanation for the store’s long life: Bend is in a region that the city’s mayor, Sally Russell, describes as having ‘huge expanses with really small communities’ that often do not have easy access to the high-speed internet necessary for content streaming. …

“ ‘It’s like with old vinyl, and how everyone wants to have turntables again,’ she said. ‘We get to a place where something out of date comes back in — there’s definitely interest in keeping this almost-extinct way of enjoying movies alive.'”

More at the New York Times, here.

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