And then there was one. Blockbuster Video, once a ubiquitous part of America’s landscape and leisure time, is down to one Oregon location after it was announced today that its two remaining Alaska stores are closing.
The final Blockbuster video stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks are closing their rental business on Monday, July 16, but will reopen on Tuesday through the end of August to sell-off their inventory. That leaves a lone Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon as the last man standing in a video chain that, at its peak, had more than 9,000 stores, half outside the US, and employed more than 84,000 people worldwide. Blockbuster founder Wayne Huizenga died in March.
Talk show host John Oliver tried to help the struggling Alaska stores in April, sending a number of Russell Crowe items to one of the two Anchorage stores. Oliver purchased the items from a Crowe divorce auction, including a leather jockstrap Crowe wore in Cinderella Man, a hood from Robin Hood, and a vest from Les Miserables. While the stunt caused a flurry of attention, it was not enough.
The Blockbuster company filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and most of its stores shuttered soon after. But Alaska has been something of a die-hard for the chain, with stores in Wasilla, North Pole and Soldotna finally closing earlier this year, along with another Anchorage location.
The owner of the Alaska stores said he determined nine months ago that renewing the remaining store leases wouldn’t make financial sense. The last two Alaska store leases end in August. Surprisingly, the stores are still profitable, he claimed, albeit rapidly declining.