The last Blockbuster resides in Bend, Oregon. In the last few years, Alaska and Australia lost their final Blockbusters. The Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon has prided itself on being the last of its kind in all of America. They sell t-shirts, hoodies, and everything celebrating the missed brand. The video store has survived the streaming age, but now, the store’s owners and manager are trying to survive the current pandemic.
Of course, the Blockbuster initially closed its doors when social distancing became too tricky to manage. Manager Sandi Harding told Vice it was an issue keeping people apart in the store:
“Unfortunately, after I got five or six people in here, everybody would be converging in the same area, everybody wanted to see the John Oliver stuff, or everybody wanted to go to the new release section. I wasn’t able to keep people apart, and I thought ‘Well, this isn’t going to work.’”
The store has closed twice during this time. The store is now reopened with curbside pickup available, though. The owners of the last Blockbuster are riding out the storm, paying all dozen of their employees. When a customer comes by for a pickup, an employee sanitizes the DVD or Blu-Ray, puts it in a big, and delivers it to the vehicle.
Harding admits the last Blockbuster is in a tough spot:
“You’re in a tight spot, because part of you is looking at the economics of it and thinking ‘I have to have customers coming and spending money, or my business isn’t going to be viable, but at the same time, I’m like the Blockbuster Mom. These are my kids that work here, the customers are my family and, my gosh, I can’t put them at risk either. Your heart is just torn in two different directions.”
What Are They Renting?
People are still going nuts for movies about pandemics. Outbreak became one of the most popular movies on Netflix, while everyone couldn’t stop renting and talking about Contagion again. Bad time to revisit those titles, if you ask me, but they’re popular titles at the moment.
Now, Blockbuster is also in a bind because they’re DVD supplier can’t keep up with deliveries at the moment. As a result, Sandi Harding visits local retailers to keep the video store’s Blockbuster fully stocked on the latest titles:
The big title for next week is ‘Call of the Wild. I usually start out with 30 copies on DVD, and 12 to 14 Blu-Ray. I’ll go to Walmart, Target, Fred Meyer, every retailer we have here in town, and I’ll only get five or 10 from each one. They don’t like me very much if I come in and just wipe out their shelves, so I try to be conscientious of that, and make sure that I leave movies for their regular customers as well.”
Not Going Without a Fight
The last Blockbuster on the planet is going to keep surviving we reckon. There are still concerns and fear over how business will continue to fare during this pandemic, but Harding adds the store won’t go down without a fight:
“The longer it goes on, the more stress there is for everyone, and the more I’m like ‘Oh gosh, can we really sustain this?’ But we’re still making plans and pushing forward and we’re the last one for a reason. We don’t go down without a fight. So we’re going to keep fighting for a while.”
The last Blockbuster in America, clearly, is a survivor. It’s amazing it’s still standing. We hope this Blockbuster never closes its doors, because who doesn’t still want the chance to enjoy strolling around a video store, eyeing titles, and making new discoveries? It’s an in-person feeling streaming will never replicate. Godspeed, the last Blockbuster.