Blockbuster’s inevitable march toward extinction has taken what might be its penultimate step. With the closure of the second- and third-to-last movie rental stores in Alaska, there is now but one lone Blockbuster, located in Bend, Oregon. After this evening, the Blockbusters in Anchorage and Fairbanks will shutter. They’ll reopen on Tuesday, July 17, but only so that they can begin video liquidation sales, which will last through the end of August. So if you’re looking to add to your VHS, DVD, or Blu-Ray collection, this could be a good time to do it.
The news was announced by way of Blockbuster Alaska’s Facebook page. Kevin Daymude, general manager of Blockbuster Alaska, believes that the video sales will draw quite the crowd. “It’s going to be crazy,” Daymude told the Associated Press, adding that Alaska residents have seemed sad about the news, and have shared video rental memories.
As two of the last few holdouts of the once-popular franchise, the closure of the two Alaska branches comes as a blow not only to Blockbuster, but to pop culture at large. Indeed, a number of celebrities have made attempts to save the chain — a couple months ago, John Oliver, who hosts the popular HBO show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” sent the jockstrap Russell Crowe wore in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man” to the Anchorage location. Other memorabilia was also sent over in an attempt to catalyze business, and for a while, it seemed as though the ploy was working.
“You would not believe how much business we got just from that memorabilia alone,” Daymude said. “I can’t thank John Oliver or his show enough.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to keep the businesses alive. Ultimately, an increase in the stores’ lease payments sounded their death knells.
Blockbuster once enjoyed considerable popularity in Alaska, where the franchise previously operated 15 stores throughout the state. Locations began to shut down around 15 years ago, with stores located in more rural areas closing beginning in the early 2000s. Of course, this trend is not specific to Alaska — Blockbuster stores across the United States have been on a steady decline for the last decade or so, with the rise of streaming services like Netflix.
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.”