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There is officially just one Blockbuster store left in the world

by Khyle Deen. Published Mon 11 Mar 2019 15:45, last updated: 12/03/19

A Blockuster video rental store in Bend, Orgeon, USA, is no longer the last remaining store in the United States. It will in fact, be the last one in the world.

Sandi Harding, general manager of the Bend Blockbuster, received a call Monday from an Australian radio station sharing the news that the Blockbuster in Perth, Australia — the only other Blockbuster on Earth — is closing at the end of the month.

Harding said she was even more shocked at Monday’s news than she was in July, when she learned Blockbuster stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, had closed, making her store off Third Street the last in the country.

“I had no idea,” she said Tuesday. “I wondered which one of us was going to hold out the longest.”

Blockbuster was a phenomenon, it first opened in the mid-1980s, people showed up in droves to its stores to rent the films. The company at its peak, had more than 9,000 stores. Its popularity began to dwindle once online streaming services such as Netflix, became more convenient ways to watch movies.

In 2010, the company filed bankruptcy, it then closed all of its corporate-owned stores in early 2014. The remaining franchised stores kept closing, leaving the sole location in Bend.

Harding has said that the Bend Blockbuster is showing no signs of closing. Since the store became the last remaining United States store this past July, tourists have been flocking, as far away as London and Taiwan.

Many visitors don’t rent a movie from the store but come instead to buy a Blockbuster T-shirt, sticker or magnet. All of the merchandise in the store is made by Bend businesses, Harding said.

And the novelty of the Blockbuster store has re-energized locals to rent more movies, she said.

“We probably open up 10 accounts a day,” Harding said. “It’s crazy the amount of people that come in and want a Blockbuster card.”

The local Blockbuster also has a steady lease agreement with the building’s property owner. The owners of the local Blockbuster, Ken and Debbie Tisher, have leased the property since 1992, when it was a Pacific Video store. The store was franchised in 2000 and became a Blockbuster. The current lease does not expire for about another three years, Harding said.

“I don’t foresee the store closing,” she said. “I think we are good for a while.”

The Bend Blockbuster has an extensive collection of Russell Crowe memorabilia on display, this is another draw for visitors to the store. Visitors can see the hood that Crow wore in Robin Hood, the robe and shorts worn in Cinderella Man along with other movie artifacts.

Comedian John Oliver of the HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, purchased the collection from Crowe as a gag, he then gave it to the Anchorage Blockbuster as a way to bring attention to the store prior to its closing. Oliver did though, hold onto the oddest item in the collection - a leather jockstrap worn by Crowe in Cinderella Man, he used it for a skit with Crowe back in November.

Harding doesn’t expect the jockstrap to be sent to Bend to join the other items in the collection.

The Bend Blockbuster is to be the focus of a full-length documentary by two Bend filmmakers, Taylor Morden and Zeke Kamm.

Morden and Kamm are in the final stages of filming and hope to start editing their project later this year. The duo has spent the past year interviewing a variety of famous actors and comedians about their love for video stores, including actor and director Kevin Smith, known from the films “Clerks,” “Mallrats” and “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.”

“It’s going to be a very funny film,” Kamm said Tuesday.

But the documentary will also examine how video rental stores offer film lovers a community, and how sad it can be to lose that community when video stores close.

Kamm said people sometimes ask if he is excited to be documenting the last Blockbuster in the world. It’s a bittersweet experience, he said. Kamm is happy to see all of the attention the Bend store is getting, but he is sorry to see it is the last one.

“There is no winner being the last,” Kamm said.

While the Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon may be the last remaining of the iconic video store. There's a video shop in Liverpool, England called VideOdyssey, it's been dubbed, "The UK's last video shop" you can rent videos (and video players) all at retro 80s prices. There's also a groovy neon arcade and bar, filled with iconic games and nostalgia.



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