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Meet the Last Blockbuster in America
The Blockbuster movie rental chain, once over 9,000 stores strong, will soon be down to one, lonely shop. After two stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, close next month, only the Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon will be left standing.
According the The New York Times, the Blockbusters that remained open after the brand’s 2013 bankruptcy and closure of corporate stores were all privately owned franchises. Alaska’s spotty Wi-Fi and TV signal coverage helped delay the takeover of streaming video in that state, which is why it called two of the last three holdouts home.
Now, the Alaskan stores are closing, despite HBO late night host John Oliver’s attempt to increase interest in the Anchorage location. On an April episode of his show Last Week Tonight, he donated to the store thousands of dollars worth of Russell Crowe film memorabilia, including a leather jockstrap from Cinderella Man, in the hopes of drumming up business for the shop.
It seems that the Bend Blockbuster, which has no plans to close, has been able to hang on because it takes a small-town, independent retail approach despite its formerly big-name brand. “We still have that core group of customers that know we’re local, are very loyal and come in every week,” the store’s manager, Sandi Harding, told The Times. “Everyone’s tired of sitting at home on their phones and their laptops and not having any personal interactions.”
We may be down to just one more domestic store, but don’t worry—there are still some Blockbusters abroad, in countries like Norway, Australia, and Brazil.