There’s Just One Blockbuster Video Left in the Entire Country
There was a time where Blockbuster Videos were almost as ubiquitous in this country as Burger King or Walmart. They were everywhere. Then Netflix came along and completely upended the home video world, first with its DVDs by mail service, and then with its addition of online streaming. Almost as quickly as Blockbusters spread across the world, they began to disappear. As of 2018 there were just three stores still in operation. Now, make that one.
The Associated Press reports that two of the final three Blockbusters are going out of business. The manager of Blockbuster Alaska told the AP the stores will stop renting discs on Sunday; after a liquidation sale, their outlets in Anchorage and Fairbanks will close for good.
That leaves just one Blockbuster Video, in Bend, Oregon, as the last functioning store in the entire country. According to Deadline, at Blockbuster’s peak it had “more than 9,000 stores, half outside the US, and employed more than 84,000 people worldwide.” From 9,000 stores, down to just one in the United States.
It can be difficult for young people who’ve come of age in the era of streaming to understand the role Blockbuster Video played in the lives of budding cinephiles. Not that its legacy was purely benevolent; when Blockbuster came to my town in New Jersey, it systematically put most of the local video stores out of business, and some of them were bigger and had better selections. But for many of us, a weekly trip to Blockbuster to check the new releases or browse the racks of older titles was a beloved ritual. Streaming has its advantages; there is a reason it has taken over the movie world. But in its store, the video store was a special place.
So who wants to make a pilgrimage to Bend, Oregon with me? I must see the final Blockbuster with my own eyes. I’ll even cover your late fees if you come with me.
Gallery - VHS Tapes You Can Still Buy on Amazon