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The Last Standing Blockbuster Store Remains Open Amid Pandemic

Is it really essential?

Photo By @Blockbusterbend Via Instagram

ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES ONLY. As the stores are closing and people are welcoming the warm comfort of their homes and online streaming services, the last remaining Blockbuster store in Oregon welcomes customers.

The general manager of the store, Sandi Harding informed Vice: “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.”

In the earlier days of the pandemic, the customers would stand in close proximity to one another, however, Harding knew that something had to be done about the operation of the store. In order to maintain the wellbeing and safety of their loyal customers, Harding closed her store for a few days and set up a roadside pick-up service, where the customers would stop by, pick up and pay for their freshly sanitized DVD inside a sealed plastic bag.

On their Instagram page “The Official Last Blockbuster”, they posted “NETFLIX HAS AN ALGORITHM. WE HAVE A CALLGORITHM”.

As days went on, Harding realized that this was not an effective way to run the store. Therefore, she reopened the last standing Blockbuster, announced it on the website, and began welcoming customers.

In order to ensure the safety of its customers, Harding put up signs for maximum of 10 customers at a time. One of the store’s regular customers informed Harding: “I am so grateful that you reopened because I couldn’t flip through Netflix one more time.”
Picture of Sandi Harding- Blockbuster

“Our Story: In 2010, Blockbuster Corporate filed for bankruptcy. The once giant video store chain had fallen from over 9094 stores in 2004 to a mere 1700 struggling corporate locations. By April 2011 they were being auctioned off and the winning bid of 320 million dollars went to Dish Network, a satellite TV provider. Slowly the new operators began closing corporate owned stores and in January 2014 the final Blockbuster Corporate location closed. This left only a few franchise locations around the world and at the end of March 2019 only 1 store remained, our store in Bend Oregon. Ken & Debbie Tisher along with their two teenagers (Marc and Rory) moved to Bend in September 1990. The following December they opened the very first Pacific Video Store on the south end of Bend. Two years later they opened the second of what was later to become 3 Central Oregon locations, here at 211 NE Revere. As small business owners the Tisher’s recognized they had the opportunity to bring the movie experience to our family homes. By offering the newest movie titles and our favorite classics on VHS they were able to give the Bend community an inexpensive alternative to going out to the theater. After successfully operating their locally owned video stores for 10 years, the Tisher’s, along with their partners, Debbie’s parents, Larry and Berniece Doan made the decision to become a Blockbuster Franchise in June of 2000. This was the beginning of our Blockbuster Story. How a small business, thru stubborn determination and a bit of pure luck, has been able to operate in the chaos of an ever changing home video world. All proceeds from our product sales go directly to support our store and help us stay open. The majority of our products are also made right here in Bend. We thank you for your support!”

Even though most people with access to the internet and computer may find it easier to use online streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix, however at uncertain times such as right now, it is nice to know at least some traditions are still going on. But the question remains, is it really worth the risk when you can have access to risk-free online movies?

Regardless of what genre of entertainment you are interested in, the global pandemic has definitely brought people closer to entertainment. If you’re interested in Broadway musicals, to online live concerts, many entertainment companies are offering their services live-online.

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