The last remaining Blockbuster in the world will remain open after seeing a surge of sales from visitors treating it like a museum.
The video rental store in Bent Oregon was due to close its doors this year following the announcement that the penultimate store in Perth, Australia, had shut.
But hundreds of people have since flocked from all over the world to visit the final branch before it is gone – which is still renting and selling DVDs to avid fans every day.
What was once a household name has now reached tourist attraction status – with owners even selling T-shirts and hats emblazoned with the iconic blue and gold logo to let customers take one last trip down memory lane.
The last remaining Blockbuster in the world will remain open after seeing a surge of sales from visitors treating it like a museum
The last remaining branch’s owner, Ken Tisher, described the last remaining Blockbuster like a rare animal in a zoo that visitors are desperate to catch a glimpse of.
‘And who knows how long people will be interested in coming to look at that animal,’ he told Retail Dive. ‘I’m just enjoying the run.’
Alan Payne, the former franchisee who owned that second-to-last U.S. Blockbuster in Alaska, said hundreds of people would turn up to closing down sales to get a novelty retro experience.
‘Every store we closed, it was another sob party,’ he said. ‘Customers are crying, employees are crying.’
He even said a customer had once told him: ‘You’re ripping my childhood away from me.’
‘I’m not aware of any industry that literally started from nothing and within 10 years was just a way of life for most Americans,’ he told the publication.
The video rental store in Bent Oregon was due to close its doors this year following the announcement that the penultimate store in Perth, Australia, (pictured) would shut
People have flocked from all over the world to visit the branch before it is gone – which is still renting and selling DVDs to avid fans every day
Mr Payne, who is currently writing a book about Blockbuster, added: ‘The life cycle of an entire industry was about 25 years.’
‘And the conventional wisdom is that it just happened because technology killed it. Well, that’s part of it, but it’s not the whole story.’
Staff at the last store in Oregon previously revealed why it remained successful, despite other stores closing their doors.
And among the reasons for its continued success, along with a community spirit and great customer service, is because some of the older regulars don’t have access to, or are unable to use, online streaming services such as Netflix, an employee said.
‘Some of them just don’t want to access the new culture of technology, and some don’t have laptops or devices to stream the sites,’ said duty manager Dalton Chambers, who agreed it made sense that the store continues to thrive on DVDs alone because of the technology gap.
Valerie Fowler and Miriam Avrit shows off their T-shirts at the Bend Blockbuster
It’s tourist attraction status has even led the owner’s to sell T-shirts and hats emblazoned with the iconic gold and blue logo to give let customers take a trip down memory lane
‘That also goes with things such as Blu-ray DVDs,’ Dalton told the DailyMail.com in March.
‘A lot of the older generations also just choose regular DVDs because they don’t want to mess with Blu-ray. They don’t want to take the chance that it might not work for them.’
But Dalton also pointed to its unique location and customer base as an another reason for the store’s historic success.
‘We’re in Bend, Oregon, and here in Oregon a lot of things thrive,’ he explained.
‘We’re a mecca for craft breweries, we’re a really outdoorsy town, we’re just in the right niche that can keep things thriving.
Alan Payne, the former franchisee who owned that second-to-last U.S. Blockbuster in Alaska, said hundreds of people would turn up to closing down sales to get a novelty retro experience
‘People are like “oh, there’s the last Blockbuster surviving – let’s keep it going!” – that’s everyone’s personas here – that’s our mantra.’
Another member of staff also gave an insight into the renting habits of the Bend customers – with the latest Jumanji, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, among the most popular releases.
Sam, the duty manager alongside Dalton at the time, also pointed to new releases such as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Green Book and Mortal Engine, as movies she expects to fly off the shelves.
Blockbuster was once the lead video renting franchise boasting 9,000 locations worldwide before going bankrupt in 2010. By 2017 there were just 10 stores left in the U.S.
While Blockbusters across the globe have close their doors, the Bend location seems to be doing just fine business-wise, she said.
The Bend shop has remained open for more than 20 years, with most of its sales coming in thanks to classic old movie titles – the shop’s ‘bread and butter’.
‘You can go to Redbox and you can get the new titles, but they don’t have the older ones. Netflix and Amazon don’t have everything, either,’ she added.
Staff at the last store in Oregon previously revealed why it remained successful, despite other stores closing their doors
The Bend location celebrated being the last Blockbuster in the U.S. after Alaska closed its last couple of shops in 2018 by selling T-shirts and hats.
Now Harding hopes being the last location on the planet will be good for business and attract tourists craving a walk down memory lane.
‘We probably open up 10 accounts a day. It’s crazy the amount of people that come in and want a Blockbuster card,’ Harding said to the Bend Bulletin.
‘I don’t foresee the store closing. I think we are good for a while,’ she added.
For many Blockbuster fans, the closure of the last Australian location is a sad one.
‘We knew change was coming but were a bit surprised how quickly it affected our customer base once Netflix hit the Australian market,’ Borszeky said last year on the effect of online movie streaming services.
‘We get customers all the time pleading for us not to close as they still enjoy the experience and service that we provide. It is sad to see where our industry has gone for a number of reasons,’ she added.
Blockbuster flourished in the 1980s and 1990s but shut down its last corporate owned stores in 2014.