The popularity of services like Netflix and Hulu, alongside VHS to DVD businesses, has put an end to the days of people heading for VHS stores to get a copy of their favourite film, with most people simply going out for the snacks, drinks and meals for their movie, not for the movie itself.
Blockbuster, the video store many consider represent the bygone age of VHS tapes, is considered extinct by many people, save for the locals at Bend, Oregon, which still stands strong despite the expansion of digital streaming services like Netflix and HBO. The store, located 150 miles of Portland, is in line to become the last Blockbuster branch in Northern America once the two Blockbuster stores in Alaska close.
Alaska saw Blockbuster stores stay for quite a while thanks to the difficulties associated with getting good Wi-Fi or broadcasting reception, but, recently, the managers of the Blockbuster stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks have made a dire announcement regarding the future of the stores. According to their Facebook posts on the 12th of July, they’ll be closing up shop soon and that they’d plan to sell off their inventories, in case someone wants the old VHS tapes for VHS to DVD conversion or just to collect them.
Blockbuster, in recent years, has been closing its corporate-owned stores, but the privately owned branches that simply license the brand, like the one in Oregon, have managed to stay. General Manager Sandi Harding, who’s been working for Blockbuster since 2004, says that the Oregon store has no plans to close the store any time soon.
Harding says that they still have a core group of customers that know of the local store, are loyal and come in regularly. She says that some people need something different from staying on their phones and their laptops, without any personal interactions.
A decade ago, Blockbuster had over 9,000 stores across the US, with Dish Network acquiring the brand back in 2011 after the retailer went under the hammer in a bankruptcy auction. Blockbuster ended up on the auction list thanks to having been crushed by digital video distributors like Netflix.
According to a spokesperson from Dish, there are still licensed Blockbuster stores outside the US, in places like Australia and Brazil.