The Last Blockbuster in America

July 23, 2018

Before the dawn of digital video, if you wanted to watch the latest movies,  you’d have to trek to a place called a video store. You’d wait in line, hoping they weren’t out of the copies of the DVD or VHS of the hit title you wanted to watch. Then trek back home and enjoy your movie.

As the era of physical media fades, so does the fate of the once mighty Blockbuster Video chain. At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster had over 9,000 stores and was a staple of family movies night. At one point in 1989, legend has it, a Blockbuster store opened every 17 hours.

But time marches on and soon Redbox then Netflix and digital video made the very idea of a store full of movies obsolete.

Thousands of Blockbuster locations closed, and up until July of this year, only three remained. The locations that existed are franchises that license the name Blockbuster from Dish Network, which bought the failed video chain after it declared bankruptcy in 2010.

Two were in Alaska and one in Bend, Oregon. As of last Sunday, the stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks will close for the last time, leaving the location on NE Revere Avenue as the sole Blockbuster in the entire country.

The remaining stores in Alaska were no fluke – the population is older, the winters are long and dark, and Alaska’s spotty Wi-Fi and TV signal coverage helped keep the bricks and mortar stores going.

However, the final store in Bend, Oregon, seems to be in good shape. As its general manager, Sandi Harding, told the Associated Press, “We have no plans on closing anytime soon.”

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