Call it the end of an era, or call it inevitability. But this tells you just how much the home-movie watching industry has changed in the last decade and a half.
This week, two of the three last Blockbuster video stores in the United States shuttered their doors, leaving just one operating store in the whole country.
Don’t think they went without a fight, though. Despite some last-ditch attempts to save the last few stores, in Anchorage, Alaska, from closure, (lol, TV host and comedian John Oliver donated some prized movie merchandise – a jockstrap worn by Russell Crowe in the film, Cinderella Man – in an attempt to gain some publicity for the stores) it wasn’t enough, and on Monday they closed for business for good.
That leaves the last Blockbuster standing the store in Bend, Oregon. Making it now somewhat of a novelty, it’s been attracting tourists no doubt looking for a hit of nostalgia. Who else can remember a fun ‘90s weekend without a visit to their local Blockbuster? Or the accompanying frustrations at unrewound tapes?
Some users took a moment on Twitter for the all-but disappeared chain:
Only one Blockbuster video left in North America. It’s gonna be a long drive to return that VHS copy of Air Bud.
— 22Minutes (@22_Minutes) July 13, 2018
That moment when you realize Blockbuster Video outlived Toys R Us… pic.twitter.com/0Z4TXeB7xe
— Seashell Bra 🐚🐚 (@Fly_Cuttlefish) July 18, 2018
RIP to the last Blockbuster Video store. In the 90s you knew your weekend was gonna be lit when your parents took you to Blockbuster.
— Dennis (@denny2themax) July 18, 2018
Today I found out that the last Blockbuster Video on the face of the earth is in Bend, Oregon. That’s a lot of postage to pay for one copy of Shrek
— Flapjack MacTavish (@StabilityBoiler) July 17, 2018
The last Blockbuster Video is in Bend, Oregon. If you rent and watch “Back to the Future,” the store disappears.
— Alex Kaseberg (@AlexKaseberg) July 18, 2018
In an age dominated by on-demand streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, and iTunes, it’s a reminder how quickly things can change. In its heyday, Blockbuster had as many as 9,000 stores, and whilst you’d be forgiven for guessing that was pre-2000, it was actually just in 2004, which just goes to show just how quickly a rapidly growing technology can wipe out a seemingly solid brand and business model.
Cut to just nine years later, in 2013, where all corporate-owned sites had closed, leaving just the privately-owned sites open. And cut to today… where an in-person video store may as well be as rare as a unicorn.
And the last person to hold the title of Blockbuster store manager, Sandi Harding, spoke to CNN on the enduring appeal of a walk-in experience for customers, saying “I think that customers really love still coming in and having that one-on-one conversation with somebody who loves movies as much as they do.” Let’s hope that’s enough to keep them in business just a little longer.