Where Is The Last Blockbuster: When entering the last remaining Blockbuster in the globe, with its brilliant yellow walls, fluorescent lighting, metal racks packed with movies and candies, and 24-hour dropbox slot for returns, it’s nearly impossible not to feel nostalgic. The store has been open since 2004 and is situated in Bend, Oregon.
Although it may appear familiar in all of its yellow and blue splendour, things have changed in the background since the days before streaming services and online movie rentals.
The shop’s general manager, Sandi Harding, claims that “people would be surprised at how much we do on our own.” There are now 12 workers at Blockbuster Bend, four of them are full-time.
Ryan Harding, Harding’s son and the former assistant manager of the company, is now in charge of overseeing social media and the internet store. Even Harding’s mother came out of retirement to help with processing online order fulfilment.
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Along with all the members that enter with laminated cards, the store has seen an increase in business as a result of its recent notoriety.
Numerous media outlets regularly interview the staff, Ellen DeGeneres taped an episode there, and tens of thousands of tourists frequent the shop to take photographs or sign the guest book.
Many tourists also buy “Last Blockbuster on the Planet” swag, which includes beanies that Harding herself knitted as well as locally produced stickers, caps, t-shirts, and hoodies.
In 2020, Bend natives Zeke Kamm and Taylor Morden, seasoned filmmakers, created a feature-length documentary titled The Last Blockbuster. They included information about Blockbuster’s final store as well as its rise and fall. The following year, Netflix acquired it.
Initially, Kamm drove by the store and believed incorrectly that it had failed along with the rest of the chain. It’s too bad the space isn’t still in use, he mused.
He discovered the truth when his Blockbuster Bend friend Morden came up to him and said, “I have this idea, but we need to start right away, or someone will beat us.”
We need to go back to 1990 to understand how the industry giant and leader among video rental chains went from having one remaining licensee headquartered inside a Central Oregon strip mall to operating 9,094 retail locations in its heyday.
The Tishers then started opening Pacific Video locations in Bend. After two years, Blockbuster began buying up rival companies, forcing independent video stores out of business.
The Tishers chose to join Blockbuster in 2000 after realising they couldn’t compete with the company. The pair started transforming their properties into Blockbuster stores.
In 2004, the same year Redbox kiosks started to appear everywhere, Harding opened the Bend location on Northeast Revere Avenue. Netflix was shipping DVDs to 4.2 million subscribers by the year 2005.
Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2010. Dish Network sold off its remaining assets, started shutting down outlets, and changed the franchisees to licensees, which caused even more closures.
The Tishers decided to stay in business and obtained a licence to use the recognisable Blockbuster brand and logo, which they renew every year. They extended their agreement for even another year in September 2022.
The Bend Blockbuster is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For those who are unable to visit, branded items is also available online.
Harding states that there are no intentions to abandon Blockbuster Bend. “Every day, we pour our hearts and souls into running this store. We’ll remain open as long as we can maintain getting consumers and collecting payment on the invoices.
Residents of Bend are aware of the value of stable employment and assisting small companies. Sarah Lauderdale, a customer of Blockbuster, visits on a regular basis with her family to rent films. “I truly like the concept of shopping locally and doing so. I detest the disappearance of mom-and-pop stores, she laments.
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