Blockbuster video stores have become extinct around the world, save for Bend, Oregon. Come April 2019, the Blockbuster in Oregon will take on the title of the last Blockbuster video store on earth. There are currently two Blockbuster stores left in the world: One in Western Australia and another in Bend, Oregon. Owners of the Australia location announced this week it will stop renting videos starting March 7 and fully shut down at the end of March, leaving Oregon with the world’s last Blockbuster.
“It’s almost re-energized us, that we’re the last one,” owner Sandi Harding told The New York Times. “They treat us like celebrities.”
While there had been additional Blockbuster video stories in the U.S. a year ago (the Anchorage, Alaska store made national headlines in April 2018 because of John Oliver), all of them closed within the last calendar year. The Bend, Oregon store became America’s last Blockbuster in July 2018, and now it’s officially going to be the last of the company’s video stores left on earth.
According to The Times, the Bend store has about 4,000 active accounts and counting. Harding said the location has become a tourist attraction with people driving hours out of their way to stop in and visit. In addition to movie rentals, the store also sells celebratory Blockbuster-branded merchandise such as trucker hats, cups, and magnets. The Bend location still has several years left on its lease.
Bend, Oregon mayor Sally Russell told The Times she believes the Blockbuster store has prevailed over all the others because the city has “huge expanses with really small communities that often do not have easy access to the high-speed internet necessary for content streaming.” People who live in remote towns often travel to Bend for groceries and other items and have made the Blockbuster a recurring stop.
“It’s like with old vinyl, and how everyone wants to have turntables again,” Russell said. “We get to a place where something out of date comes back in — there’s definitely interest in keeping this almost-extinct way of enjoying movies alive.”
The Bend store is even inspiring a documentary, with two filmmakers raising $40,000 on Kickstarter to profile the store in a non-fiction feature. Head over to The New York Times to read more about the world’s last Blockbuster store.