The World’s Last Blockbuster Has No Plans to Close

With the closing of a Blockbuster store in Australia, the one in Bend, Ore., will be the last to survive changes in technology and shopping that reshaped the way people watch movies at home.

Comments: 79

  1. Sooo miss the video stores where you can go in and rent anything you want. Can’t do that now i.e. have not seen the last Wonder Woman movie I heard its great but there are no streaming services out there that will rent it, only sell it. And why, no competing stores who will.

  2. @Steve D Most of the times i use The Pirate Bay or Rarbg or whatnot are because it is simply the easiest and fastest option. After the end of Net Neutrality, the gloves are off.

  3. I’m so glad for the New York public library, from which I can check out DVDs for a week. But alas, they too are changing. It used to be that I could go into my two local library branches and browse through a small but diverse selection of DVDs.Now the local branches have gotten rid of their collections. More extensive ones still exist in other bigger branches and of course, I can still order what I want online to be picked up at my local branch. But gone is the thrill and convenience, which Blockbuster also had to some degree, of just dropping in at the last minute as I walked by the library, and finding something I had wanted, had forgotten about or hadn’t even known existed.

  4. @Miriam I too miss the trips to Blockbuster. These days you don't need to go to the library for movies. Use your membership to register at Kanopy, and stream the library's collection from home.

  5. @Darren I use Kanopy sometimes and alert my out-of-town kids and friends about the good stuff. But I thought it was only an L.A. thing, and so did they! Thanks for the inadvertent tip!

  6. Dear Miriam, I find that many of the public library’s DVDs look as though they had been stepped on by hundreds of people and, not surprisingly, will no longer play properly. It is especially sad as they are so easy to hold by the edges and take proper care of. Alas. Stay warm and be well, Allen

  7. Worked in a video store through college. Hard to believe that a job I had is now as archaic as being a switchboard operator or a haberdasher, but it is true.

  8. @Tbroom This news should be heralded by every new green deal advocate. No traveling in a polluting car made by billionaire capitalists just to indulge your selfish entertainment impulses. Popcorn? Salty and greasy and subsidized by gigantic capitalist agribusinesses. Movies? Produced by serial sex offenders, probably, who happen to be men. I'd say Blockbuster's failure is a win for social justice.

  9. Used to have one close by. I miss going through the aisles looking for movies, and the kids looking for movies. And you could buy popcorn too!

  10. @Gilbert They also had memorabilia. Chains of Blockbusters, if they were in existence today, would survive mostly on Funko POPs sales just like GameStops which are next in line to go the way of the dodo.

  11. One point missing from this is that the video image quality of DVD (especially 4K) is often far superior to streaming. Even with super high speed connection, the source can be altered heavily with horrible compression. Yes you can have DVD's sent to you via mail to get the quality (like Netflix), but it is convenient to get it in your hands and make sure its not scratched/damaged....only from a place like Blockbuster. Wish I had a place like that in my Brooklyn neighborhood.

  12. As a movie lover who lives in a rural area without streaming-friendly internet (though sadly on the wrong coast to take advantage of this place) I desperately want physical video rental stores to come back. Keep up the good work, World's Last Blockbuster!

  13. @Elisabeth May be that is the niche some one can fill the needs of similar geographies..

  14. With the sparse selection of movies's available on Netflix DVD, and the very limited and constantly changing selection Netflix Streaming, maybe it is time for a rebirth of the local DVD rental store.

  15. @John Palmieri Thank you for saying this. I got Netflix streaming to see one show. I expected it to be like my video star will all the latest releases right up front for you to see and rent. But it wasn't. My town still has a small independent video store where all the latest releases are right up front for you to rent.

  16. @John Palmieri I believe redbox still exists.. who would take a bet of bigger physical stores as a new franchise model now a days??

  17. @John Palmieri Netflix's DVD selection is expansive, probably 10-100 times more than what any local DVD store ever attempted to carry at a given time. What movies are you trying to find that they don't have (that a local DVD rental store would have)?

  18. I want to be the first to suggest that Blockbuster's demise is the fault of Net Neutrality. Or maybe the demise of Net Neutrality. What does Net Neutrality do again? Who knows? Regardless, in the end, Blockbuster failed because of capitalism. And, of course, Trump.

  19. @Ed, I'd like to blame Trump, but I don't think that applies here. Instead I think one should look at the rise of operations like Netflix, Redbox, Amazon, etc. It's just the way of things in a very fast moving technological society. Companies don't tend to have the lengthy lifespan they once had, unless they are very flexible and morph with the times.

  20. Yes, strangely enough, I also miss them. I'm not a big movie fan--but they were great on a Saturday evening. I remember returning them and watching the clerk quickly open and view the tape to see if I had rewound it. A quick dismissive glance, if I had not, would almost chill the bones. Lol. Online today you need to already know what you want to view. You locate it, purchase and view it. In the day of the rentals, you would walk along the isles and view the titles---much like you do today when purchasing books at Barnes and Noble. You would see movies you had never heard of before but interested you, or view ones that you had once enjoyed but had long forgotten. you would then carry home your small treasures. If is too bad that multiple methods cannot coexist these days. Why must it always be one method only? Surely there could be a market for both streaming and renting! Oh well, I guess not.

  21. Your comments are right on, and I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t follow the movie ads in your local paper, you don’t know what is out there. Thus, online, you just make a blind search.

  22. Wow, a well written FUN story for a change. Go Tiffany

  23. Not mentioned in the article is whether the movies are DVDs or VCRs or 16 mm.

  24. @Steve Blumenthal I'm certain they are DVD, since VHS went out in early 2000's in all stores

  25. I read an article a year or two ago about one of the last Blockbuster's being in Alaska, in some town that had unreliable internet service. What ever happened to that one?

  26. @Kdan Amazing that you knew that. Thank you!

  27. Yay! Go Blockbuster's Bend, Oregon! I worked in a video store in Evanston, IL while working on my PhD., and I still miss that job. It was great fun to get to know customers of all ages and talk with them about movies. I remember one snowy Valentine's Day when people came in on cross country skis and young couples rented "date night" videos. We were purported to sell more Ben and Jerry's ice cream than the local supermarket. The store was a wonderful and warm part of the community.

  28. I grew up in Bend, Oregon. It has always been a very unique place, and for a lot of reasons. Interestingly, on the other side of the coin, I think Bend was also the location of the FIRST Pizza Hut!!! Well, these are apt to become tidbits of trivia, but they really don't tell you much about the town itself. Actually it's not a "town" anymore, it's a small city! It has been discovered!!!

  29. @T. D. Yarnes The First Pizza Hut was in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas. The Owners were from here and the location is at the Wichita State University Campus.

  30. I miss my video store. The pleasure of going to the store, reviewing the titles on the boxes and coming home with a rental is something sadly missing with today's streaming services. When I lived in the UK our local video store rented videos and sold wine (really!), so picking up a video and something to drink with it became a ritual. Sadly gone. But of course I don't miss the penalties due to my forgetting to return it :-(.

  31. Best of luck, and never close.

  32. My brother in law was devoted to another of the last Blockbusters in Alaska. It functioned like a local bar or coffee place, a stop to see friends and neighbors after work and chat with the employees, with the focus on movies, not alcohol. For him, Netflix streaming isn't the same.

  33. Born and raised in Bend, still live here, probably still have an account at that store (haven't used it for many years). One thing not mentioned in this: the decent-speed local internet options, when available, mostly have data caps. It's not hard to blow through your monthly cap with the local cable company internet service if you stream a lot.

  34. Just a note: (and I hate to be that guy, but...) 10 Barrel Brewing is not a locally owned small craft brewer. InBev owns them and has for years. I think it's an important distinction.

  35. @dave Yeah but it started in Bend Oregon and they still make one of the best IPAs I have ever enjoyed, The Joe. I think it's pretty cool that they made a beer to celebrate what will be one of the last Blockbusters.

  36. I miss Blockbuster. My local one made me an honorary employee back in the '90's, and even gave me a badge, because I rented so many movies. There is nothing like holding the box in your hands and reading about the movie inside. Looking at them online just doesn't compare.

  37. @Stewart Wilber I couldn't agree more. I had a card from Louisiana and one from Manhattan, NY; my wife's was from Buffalo. Between the two of us, we always managed to get a card to work. It was fun browsing through the older "new and used" titles as well. This reminds me of the late 1960's. Our local (vinyl) record store would sell "promotional" albums (not meant to be resold). My brother had gone to many pop festivals, and bought (for example) Led Zeppelin's first album for 99 cents, because no one had heard of them, except "through the grapevine". We ultimately bought dozens of great albums this way, for either 99 cents or $1.99 (the regular price was $5.98).

  38. Dear Mr. Wilbur, I feel exactly the same way about record stores and miss them for the same reasons. Take care, Allen

  39. This is really great to see. I am happy for the owners of the store, and what they are doing. It reminds me of older vinyl record stores which still exist; sometimes (but not always) in a pretty messy environment. Keep it up, Ms. Harding.

  40. Last summer I was visiting friends in Charlevoix Michigan and noticed a functioning Radio Shack store at the mall. My friend said it was independently owned and not part of the corporate bankruptcy. Corporate Remnant indeed.

  41. Tour buses stop at OUR Bend Blockbuster, can you believe it? For us Bend'ers, these are pretty exciting times! I mean, it may be 20 degrees outside but those selfies keep on coming. I hear Sandi may start charging to have her picture taken with you!

  42. Great article. While a dying mode of distribution for movie entertainment, there are still a few niches out there. By way of example, when next in Madison, Wisconsin, take a spin through Four Star Video, just off of State Street. Over 20,000 titles under one roof and a great staff to guide you through the amazingly broad inventory. A real gem.

  43. The streaming services all seem to have limited content and when you want to watch something more vintage the pickings get very slim. I miss my old video rental store which had an extensive library of more obscure indie films. Netflix is more mainstream and the movies are available for a very limited time.

  44. I would frequently rent movies and Playstation games from my local childhood Blockbuster store, located in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia. I have strong memories of going with my sister and mother and negotiating about which 3 or 5 titles we would rent as part of a combo deal - each of us reading the blurb of our selected DVDs to the others to try and convince them to allow our choice in on the deal! Later in adolescence the main reason I wanted to go was because I fancied a girl my age who worked there! That premises is now a 24 hour gym, Blockbuster being long gone.

  45. For about a year in 1990, I worked at a Blockbuster near Greenwood Ave. N. in Seattle. I mostly enjoyed the interaction with my customers, but sometimes not so much. Two vivid memories persist to this day: 1) Customers even then were savvy about release dates on new video titles and would frequently gather in the store waiting for our delivery of those video tapes from our UPS Driver. And become impatient when we had to (out of sight in the back), open the boxes, inventory them, label them and put the new tapes in their respective white & blue hard outer cases. Then shrink-wrap the original cardboard sleeves to put in front of the new plastic boxes on the shelves. 2) Customers were demanding sometimes if their requested video was 'out', so they'd have us go outside (in all kinds of weather), to the drive-thru box and empty it in search of the title they needed. Sometimes the customer would see a new car or two drive through and deposit a return, and of course, off we'd have to go to find out it was only '3 Men and a Baby' and not 'Ghost'. Ah, those were the days.

  46. @david that's a riot!!

  47. I lived within a 5 minute walk to a Blockbuster for years and never felt the urge to go, now I'm considering driving out to Bend to visit the last one. Exclusivity can do wonders to the appeal of a place, I guess.

  48. The thing about streaming movies: no bonus material :-(

  49. @mm Even rental versions of DVDs and blu-rays typically don't have bonus material either. For that, you usually have to buy it. That's one reason I still like to buy movies. I find the bonus material to be fairly interesting.

  50. Our local (non-chain) video store, Best Video in Hamden, CT, has managed to hang in there by adapting to the needs of its community. It has an amazing DVD collection (no, seriously if it is on DVD, chances are they have it), coffee bar, hosts live music, movie nights and similar events. But most importantly, even though there is no shortage of streaming services and Netflix is only as far as your laptop, they manage to survive because they are about the community. Plus the staff has an encyclopedic knowledge base about movies. I really hope this last Blockbuster is more than just the last man standing of the entertainment equivalent of McDonald's. Because if Blockbuster is McDonald's, then Best Video is Peter Luger.

  51. This is very interesting. Like many have said, it is a dying business model with an exclusivity that people actually like. I have memories of going to Blockbuster as a child in Brazil, it was one of the most exciting environments to be in. I hope that this Blockbuster in Oregon never closes so that we can share childhood memories like this one and use it as a business example for the future generations.

  52. I never realized just how lucky we are in the Midwest to have the wonderful Family Video—friendly staff, minimal late fees and, for film geeks like me, the opportunity to watch all of the DVD extras that are not included with streaming.

  53. Let's not get too misty-eyed here. Remember Blockbuster's late fees, "rewind fees," and generally snotty service, as if they were doing you a favor by taking your money? When Blockbuster was on top, they really stuck it to you.

  54. I hope it never, ever closes!

  55. The article notes that it's the last place to rent a DVD, after the library. Which is an excellent point. I'm always amazed when I pop into my local library how busy the DVD section is - it is always literally teeming with people scanning the shelves for DVDs. An important reminder that not everyone in our society has access to the modern marvels most of us now take for granted. Support your public libraries!

  56. @Megan Netflix still deals in DVDs as well as streaming. Many older and foreign movies are only available this way.

  57. @Megan Sometimes I still prefer to play a disc anyway. Even good internet service isn't always reliable. I get tired of buffer issues sometimes. And sometimes I think a disc can still offer higher quality than streaming, particularly if you want to watch something in 4K and don't have an internet connection that can handle it.

  58. And all 4,000 Oregon Blockbuster account holders also believe vaccines are harmful, Cannibis cures all, and flouride in the water is a government conspiracy.

  59. @JP Actually, those old-fashioned 4,000 are probably the only Oregonians who still believe the opposite of the three things you cite.

  60. @JP I'm sure it has to do with the limited internet access and not what politics are involved.

  61. @Cowboy Marine They probably don't hang online in echo chambers reinforcing misscience.

  62. The article mentions the store signs an annual license agreement with dish network. I hope to heck Dish waves the franchise fee!! A similar story - There used to be an EastCoast steak house chain called Victoria Station. As franchiees closed, the parent company became less and less visible. The lone remaining store operated for several years before realizing the parent company had closed there doors. I beleive they only found out when trying to order engraved glassware from parent comany and found they had shutdown

  63. @Jim Z: Not just east coast, either - it was also a good place to eat in California and in Colorado, at least.

  64. Thank you, Blockbuster! If it wasn't for you, with the late fees, rewind fees, and long lines, Netflix would never had the room to enter the market with DVD by mail program. You rock!

  65. @jayno Always remember to rewind those DVDs!

  66. One correction to this article is that there is still a Blockbuster store here in Florence, Italy, just outside the historic center. It is still going strong and there was an article in the local news nearly identical to this one where the Italians were amazed that it has survived when all the other locations in Italy closed long ago....

  67. I visited Blockbuster in Bend a few months ago, unfortunately they didn't have the 80s movie I was looking for but it was nostalgic since we used to go to Blockbuster in Tigard with our kids before switching to Netflix by mail. I appreciate defiance in the face of change, and the idea of the store as living history.

  68. As a child, "Blockbuster" was the first word I learned to recognize spelled out loud - my parents had starting doing so in an attempt to avoid my being overcome by excitement at the chance to rent "The Land Before Time" for at least the 20th go in a row!

  69. What about competition from Redbox? I remember Blockbuster and similar rental stores charging $3 or $4 to rent a movie for a few days, and from Redbox you can rent a movie for $1.50 or so (for one night, which is often all you need). I remember going to either Blockbuster or Hollywood Video, and sometimes an independent mom & pop movie rental shop, back in the day with family to rent movies.

  70. Blockbuster is nearly dead, but you will find some video rental stores out there. I lived in Indianapolis for nearly 17 years before moving to Washington 3 1/2 years ago. During his senior year in high school, my son worked in a Family Video store. This was just four years ago. When I moved to D.C. and told people my son worked in a video store, they looked at me like I thought it was still the 1990s. Family Video is still around. Apparently, it remains in business because it owns nearly all its properties and rents out part of them to popular fast-food businesses. I know Little Caesar's pizza was a popular one in Indianapolis. Family Video pocketed the rent and also drew customers looking for pizza and a movie. It also had a lot of locations in lower-income areas. Frankly, many of its customers didn't have Internet access. Family Video also had a backroom with an adult section -- another throwback to the 1980s. It was quite an experience for my son when some 50-year old guy asked him for a pornography recommendation. I don't want to give up the comforts of streaming. It's cheaper, too. But for those of us who grew up in the '80s and '90s, Blockbuster was a magical name. I still went to one in Indianapolis up until the bankruptcy in 2010. I didn't have HBO at the time and rented DVDs of "The Sopranos" episodes.

  71. There is a Blockbuster close to Rapid City, SD. Drove past it with my spouse summer 2018, and found it on Google Maps this hour.

  72. Scarecrow Video in Seattle is still going strong after 20+ years in business. Over 120,000 titles available to rent. Blockbuster died because it was always lame; Scarecrow has thrived because it's got essentially every movie ever released on a mass market medium (Beta, laserdisc, you name it).

  73. Been there, during eclipse season in 2017. Best wishes and good luck to the store.

  74. I worked at a Blockbuster in Pittsburgh one summer while in college. It was a great job to have at 19. Very laid back compared to working in a trendy clothing store. Employees could rent for free five movies a week and I became familiar with so many foreign films and quite a few Hitchcock movies that way. And since all I did that summer was work two jobs and watch movies, I earned all my spending money for when I studied in Rome through the following year. I am glad there's still a Blockbuster hanging in there, and I hope it can help people discover and love movies as it did for me.

  75. We live about 164 miles from the store! WE like to drive over from the wet side of Oregon to the dry side when we want a change of climate --- usually stay in Madras - a smaller town nearby. Haven't needed a video fix while visiting before, but will drop in soon!!

  76. for no particular reason, I feel compelled to say "dead cat bounce". I am glad to hear that there is a micro environment where it all makes sense. I also like the thought that a film allowed to visit for a week may become better known and appreciated in that time.

  77. Hang in there, Bend Blockbuster! I applaud any store or opinion or way of life that resists the changes that have made out world culturally unlivable before it becomes physically unlivable.