Dear Blockbuster Video, stay strong our forlorned rental store friend.
It is with a heavy heart that we must report that the second to last Blockbuster store - located in Western Australia - is shutting its sliding doors for good. After news that the two previous outcast stores in Alaska closed last summer, that leaves only one final remaining Blockbuster video store on the face of the planet.
The final Blockbuster store now resides, nestled in the Cascade Mountains, in Bend, Oregon. A small town with less than 100,000 residents, all of whom are now some of the luckiest human beings in the world. They have the distinct privilege of making their home movie watching decisions at the last Blockbuster.
In its heyday in the 1990s and early 2000s, Blockbusters were numerous and spotted across the globe. With nearly 10 thousand stores at its peak, many of us fondly remember passing under the blue VHS logo on Friday afternoons to pick out your weekend movie-watching selections.
As many have noted, with the death of the video rental store and the rise of the online streaming giants, movie watching has changed in subtle and strange ways. No longer are decisions heavily-weighed when you can change your mind with the tap of a finger. Research, word-of-mouth and online forums carry less weight when machine algorithms make their recommendations for you.
If you follow the news, there’s been a great debate between the Netflix phenomenon and the physical movie theater going experience with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Ava DuVernay, Sean Baker and Paul Schrader all chiming in.
Yet the real tragedy in this whole modern digital age might be the loss of not just Blockbusters, but the mom-and-pop video stores. Of entire communities devoted to sharing, trading and buying and selling rare, interesting and hard to find VHSs and DVDs.
As we move forward, here’s hoping the last Blockbuster stays open forever. If not at least to remind people that there once was a time when you ruled the earth. And that you were a wonderful mess of overstocked Jerry Maguires and endless conversations about what handful of movies to rent for the week.