Bend, OR

The world's last Blockbuster Video: still going strong in the age of streaming

Eugene Adams

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A photo of the exterior of the Bend, Oregon Blockbuster in 2018Coasterlover1994, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you remember Blockbuster Video?

In the long-forgotten time of movie rentals, Blockbuster Video was king. At its peak, it had over 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees. 

Then the rise of streaming mixed with Blockbuster’s lack of innovation changed everything. Today Blockbuster is a mostly forgotten relic of the past. 

But, did you know there is still one store left?

That store, located in Bend, Oregon, was the subject of a Netflix documentary last year.

The World’s Last Blockbuster

When you visit Blockbuster’s corporate website, you get redirected to a page selling you on Dish TV. In the top right-hand corner, there is a small mention of the one store left. 

The Bend, Oregon location has obviously been struggling, with there being a global pandemic and all. But all things considered, it’s doing much better than expected. 

There are two big reasons for the store’s continued success. 

Nostalgia

Nostalgia for the ’90s and early 2000s is quickly becoming big business. Many people visit the store just for the experience and to take a few pictures. 

The store has leaned into that nostalgia. It now displays popular memorabilia such as Russel Crowe’s jockstrap from Cinderella Man. After taking some pictures, you can buy some of the store-specific merchandise that they have on sale. 

Note: You can also purchase merchandise online if you can’t make the trip out to Bend.

Innovative ideas

A lack of innovation hurt the original Blockbuster. The Bend location doesn’t have that problem. They made their store available for sleepovers on Airbnb. The Airbnb experience includes free snacks, a sofa bed, large TV, and of course, an old-school VCR. 

Leaning into the 90’s experience was a really smart move by the store. 

Covid-19 Pandemic

Dealing with the Pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Blockbuster is no exception. Thankfully, the store has found solutions to most of the challenges. 

Those solutions include wiping everything down, limiting the number of people in the store, and curbside pickup. 

Covid forced the store to close twice, but thankfully none of its 12 employees lost their jobs. In fact, none of the employees have missed a single paycheck, thanks in part to a Paycheck Protection Progam Loan. 

How Long Can it Last?

Sadly, the world’s last Blockbuster might not last forever. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

Streaming will always be more popular than driving to a physical store to get a DVD. But, the overall experience the Bend Oregon Blockbuster offers is unique. 

Get your 90s nostalgia in while you can. 

Visit their website for any new developments or buy some merchandise.

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