Perhaps this is my age showing, but there’s a time where I fondly remember going to a video rental store to pick out a movie and have fun with it for a few days. There was a local video store in my neighborhood where we’d constantly go to for movies, though most of the time I just rented from their NES games, usually the game show ones. Though I did constantly see stuff like Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode and Fester’s Quest but never really got curious enough to play them.
Then Blockbuster Video opened up in the late 1980s. When the 1990s hit, they started to expand, appearing all around the United States. At this point, the local video rental store wasn’t the hot place anymore as we rented from both Blockbuster and its rival Hollywood Video more often as they had the newest stuff more immediately. Said video store has since shut down and been replaced by a Mexican food store. I still kinda miss that place.
Blockbuster was often our family’s go to for recent movies and video games. A fair share of games I played during the SNES and Genesis era came from Blockbuster. In an old post I made about my mom’s love for ToeJam and Earl, I mentioned that I still have the cartridge which was engraved with “Blockbuster Video” on the back. Still do, and it brings some nostalgic memories of not just my mother but also this video store chain.
But then we get into the 2000s, with internet streaming slowly becoming a thing. Netflix comes around and does similar services to Blockbuster Video but without all those late fees. They try to compete but it’s too late. Even with trying to be antagonistic towards Netflix with a somewhat infamous tweet, it isn’t enough. Blockbuster Video stores start closing in the US. The one that was in my area gets replaced by various stores including a Cricket Wireless store and a doctor’s office.
Normally, that would be the end of the tale. A business that muscled its way into being the primary market for something, got blindsided by new technology, and then just fizzled away to a past nostalgic memory. Blockbuster Video isn’t much of an entity in the United States these days. Except for one.
Bend, Oregon has what is considered to be “The Last Blockbuster Video on the Planet,” and that store became somewhat legendary because of its staying power, being the last open store as of 2019. I’ve gone on camping trips near La Pine, Oregon over the years and every time we always drove past that Blockbuster, even though we were aware of how famous it was now. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was genuinely worried about that place shutting down due to lagging sales as many other businesses did, thus not giving me the opportunity to visit what was considered a cultural landmark. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and I was able to visit it this year.Continue reading…