blockbuster video

A long, long time ago, people had to travel to brick and motor stores to pay money to rent movies. These movies weren’t streaming, or on disc. No, no, friends. The movies were housed within plastic rectangles known as “VHS tapes.” There were many of these stores, but one of the most profitable and famous was Blockbuster Video. Those days are gone. Blockbuster shuttered most of their stores years ago, but a few stragglers remained. And now, only one store remains in the United States.

It was the great poet Percy Shelley who once wrote: “And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Blockbuster, Video Store of Video Stores; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.” Here in the year 2018, there were only three Blockbuster Video stores left in America. Two in Alaska, the other in Oregon. Now, the Anchorage Daily News reports the two Alaskan Blockbusters are closing for good. Which means the store in Bend, Oregon is the last Blockbuster standing.

At its highest, most profitable point, Blockbuster was running close to 9,000 stores in America. But the way people consumed their movies drastically changed in the 21st century. Streaming took hold, and people realized they could just beam movies right into their damn TVs instead of putting on some sweatpants and driving to an actual store. By 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, and stores began to close. By 2013, there were only 13 stores left in America. By 2016, only 9 remained. And now…here we are. All but one gone.

Blockbuster Alaska District Manager Kelli Vey and General Manager Kevin Daymude took to Facebook to issue the following message regarding the Alaskan closures. A message that may or may not have made me tear up a little, who’s to say:

These are the last two Blockbuster stores in Alaska that survived and it is sad to say goodbye to our dedicated customers. We have thought of you as family for the past 28 years. Both Kelli Vey and I (Kevin Daymude) have been with the company since 1991 and have had great memories throughout our career. Thank you for sticking by us throughout all these years. I can’t tell you how much it means to us. We hope to see you at our stores during the closing, even if it’s just to say “Hello”. What a great time to build your media library and share some Blockbuster memories with us.

We will miss all of you!

Boutique and independent video stores have continued to exist here and there, and Alamo Drafthouse announced they would be opening a video store (with VCR’s for rent) in Raleigh, N.C. I know some people didn’t think kindly of Blockbuster – they tended have terrible pan-and-scan copies of movies, and would often refuse to carry more controversial titles. Perhaps its nostalgia, but the once mighty Blockbuster will always have a special place in my memory. I remember fond trips to the store (and it’s competotor, Hollywood Video), spending hours browsing the HORROR section. There was something special and magical about not having movies available with the press of a button via Netflix or other streaming services. But those days are gone.

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