During a trip to Alaska in 2014, I saw several things you won't find in many other U.S. states: moose, grizzlies, glaciers and Blockbuster stores.
The video-rental retail business was alive and well in Alaska, which was home to almost all of the nation's remaining Blockbusters. But how was this possible in the age of streaming Netflix and Redbox kiosks?
It seems any franchise owners or licensees who paid to use Blockbuster's name and logo can live on, becoming what are often called "zombie stores." Nine of those stores were owned by Texas-based Border Entertainment, and the company's president, Alan Payne, told NPR in 2013 his stores were profitable.
What was the key to Payne's success? Setting low prices, maintaining a large selection of movies and knowing his customers. These were people who did’t know how to rent movies online, who didn't want to pay $3 or $4 for a rental, or who lacked an Internet connection capable of streaming a movie.
Blockbuster was also operating in Australia for years, until the last remaining store located in Perth announced it was closing its doors in March 2019.
"We get customers all the time pleading for us not to close as they still enjoy the experience and service that we provide," store owner Lyn Borszeky told Eastern Reporter. But in the end, Borszkey said her business just couldn't keep up with the growing popularity of Netflix and other streaming services.
The same fate befell Payne's business, and his last two remaining stores closed during the summer of 2018.
There's only 1 Blockbuster left
Thus leaving only one remaining Blockbuster in the entire world located in Bend, Oregon.
"How exciting,” the Bend store’s general manager Sandi Harding told the Associated Press last year. "It might end up being a little chaotic for a couple of weeks.”
If you feel an urge to take a trip down memory lane and head to Oregon, you're still in luck. “We have no plans on closing anytime soon,” Harding said.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in June 2014.