Remember Friday night trips to Blockbuster followed by a weekend of movies and microwavable popcorn? One Blockbuster store is keeping that memory alive with their Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon. A Blockbuster in Perth, Australia, closed this Monday, making Ken and Debbie Tisher the owners of the very last Blockbuster in the world.
The movie-rental chain peaked in the mid 1980s, operating over 9,000 stores at its peak, but slowly fell prey to online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as they began to pick up steam in the mid 2000s. By 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and closed their corporate-owned stores in 2014. The remaining Blockbusters were franchise stores that held on as long as they could until the location in Bend, Oregon, became the last one standing.
Harding said that her store has a lucrative future and has no signs of closing. The Bend Blockbuster has become a tourist attraction, drawing people from all around the world who want to see the last Blockbuster and purchase memorabilia such as t-shirts, magnets, and stickers. The attraction of the Bend location has also inspired locals to rent more movies. The highlight of a visit is opening up a Blockbuster account.
“It’s crazy the amount of people that come in and want a Blockbuster card,” said store manager, Sandi Harding.
The store’s comprehensive Russell Crowe memorabilia collection also draws a considerable amount of people to the location. It includes costume and set items from various movies, such as a vest from Les Misérables, a robe and shorts from Cinderella Man, and directors chairs for Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe from American Gangster.
Comedian John Oliver purchased the memorabilia collection as a way to attract visitors to the Anchorage Blockbuster, but held on to the leather jockstrap Crowe wore in Cinderella Man for a skit with Crowe in November.
“I think we are good for a while,” Harding said.
The Tishers have leased the property since 1992, first as a Pacific Video store and now as a Blockbuster, and their current lease doesn’t expire for another three years.
Taylor Mordem and Zeke Kamm, two local filmmakers, are making a documentary about the last Blockbuster on Earth, with the Bend location as the focus. The film will focus on the community of movie lovers in rental stores and how sad it can be to lose that community when a store closes. Over the last two years, they have interviewed famous comedians and actors, including actor-director Kevin Smith of Mallrats, Clerks, and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, about their love for video stores.
Mordem and Kamm recognize that it’s great to see the attention the Bend Blockbuster is getting, but it is still sad to know it is the last one.
“There is no winner being the last,” Kamm said.