Not so long ago, Blockbuster had 9,000 video rental locations and was bringing in $6 billion in annual revenue at its peak. The store was so popular in fact, that in 1989 a new store was opening every 17 hours. And in 2019, the only other Blockbuster on Earth aside from the one in Bend will be closing their doors by the end of the month — leaving the only operating Blockbuster left in Bend.
News to me, after apparently, the Blockbuster stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks Alaska have closed for good, the Blockbuster located in the Perth suburb of Morley, Australia was the only other Blockbuster left. This all comes just on the heels after an article I wrote 2 years ago this month how Blockbuster was still a thing. At the time, there were still three stores in Oregon, with Redmond and Sandy still hanging on.
As someone who grew up during this era, a part of me still pines for that nostalgia, and I’ve even considered driving to Bend to see it for myself. The store, according to the manager Sandy Harding, has become quite the tourist attraction and has even drawn tourists as far away as Taiwan and London.
And according to Harding, the store doesn’t look to be closing anytime soon. I mean, they even have their own craft beer now, as they have partnered with 10 Barrel Brewing. The Oregonian reports the Bend location has a steady lease agreement with the building’s property owner. Ken and Debbie Tisher own the store, and have leased the property since 1992, when at the time it was a Pacific Video store. The store became a blockbuster in 2000 when it was franchised, and currently, the lease will go for at least another three years.
A lot of visitors just drop in to grab a Blockbuster shirt, sticker or magnet and aren’t necessarily renting a movie. With the rapid rise of digital services such as Netflix, which launched in 1999, and online retailers, like Amazon, Blockbuster’s video and DVD business model has pretty much vanished. If there’s one thing for certain, as convenient as movie streaming services are, I could find just about anything I wanted to watch at a Blockbuster — and that’s not only always the case for Netflix. Not to mention, we used to have an excuse to leave the house on a Friday night.
What do you miss about going to local video stores?