If you don’t live in Bend, Oregon, you can take that blue Blockbuster card out of your wallet.
Bend is the end! Because two Blockbuster rental stores in Alaska close Monday, Bend is the last locale in the U.S. to sport a Blockbuster Video store.
Blame Netflix and Redbox.
In 2004, Blockbuster peaked at about 4,500 U.S. stores and another 4,500 stores outside the United States.
In 2010 (just six years later!) Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy.
The first time Blockbuster operated only a single store was Oct. 19, 1985 when it opened a Dallas facility with 8,000 VHS and 2,000 Beta tapes. By 1987 Blockbuster operated 19 locations, at which point Blockbuster “founder” Wayne Huizenga began investing in the company.
Blockbuster grew massive in part by acquiring huge rival chains like Major Video and Erol’s. In 1994 Blockbuster acquired the Sound Warehouse and Music Plus chains to create Blockbuster Music. (Five years later the Blockbuster record stores were sold to Wherehouse Entertainment.)
As recently as 1994 Huizenga was talking about building a 2,500-acre Blockbuster sports and amusement park in Florida. That project never went forward though.
Swimming in cash, the rental chain instead became a major Viacom shareholder before it bought 35% of Republic Pictures and a controlling interest in Spelling Entertainment.
The Dish Network (!) in 2011 (just seven years ago!) bought Blockbuster for $320 million (!!!) and the assumption of $87 million in “liabilities and other obligations.” (Someone at Dish apparently thought it might be a good idea to use the loserly Blockbuster brand to launch a Netflix-ish DVD-by-mail service.)
The following year, on Oct. 24, 2012, Comedy Central aired “A Nightmare on FaceTime,” an episode of “South Park” that paid homage to “The Shining” as it depicted Randy Marsh buying a customer-free Blockbuster store for $10,000, less than most people pay for a used car.
Between Nov. 6, 2013, and Jan. 12, 2014, the approximately 300 remaining corporate-owned Blockbuster stores in the U.S. were closed -- and Blockbuster’s DVD-by-mail program was shut down. At that time 51 stores were still being operated by franchisees. Like Randy.
Coincidentally (or not), Huizenga passed away less than four months ago. To anticipate the question, he was claimed by cancer in sunny Fort Lauderdale, so it’s unlikely he froze to death in a snowbank.