If you are under the age of 25, you probably have no idea what this store is or why it was necessary. Imagine a time before smartphones (I know, right?!?). Barely any internet much less streaming video services. There was a time when a person had to go to a video store and rent a VHS or DVD to see the newest movie released on video. Over time they graduated to BluRay discs and videogames. You had a set amount of time to use and return the videos/games or you would be charged a penalty late fee.
Blockbuster was a cultural phenomenon. The stores were everywhere. At their height there were over 9,000 stores in the U.S. alone. I spent a great deal of money (mainly in late return fees) at this establishment. I was also one of the first to jump ship. When there was a captive audience the prices were astronomical because there was no competition. When streaming services became the new rage Blockbuster started to lower their prices. In my mind, that was an admission that Blockbuster had ripped us off for years and was now willing to offer a reprieve. Instead of taking the reduced membership fee I left outright. It took a while, but over time others followed suit. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube established and pretty much put Blockbuster out of business.
According to CNN, the Bend, Oregon Blockbuster location is the last one standing in the world. An Australia store closed this week. There is some conflicting discussion on when the final Alaska stores closed their doors. I don’t know what is (or isn’t) going on in Bend but I almost want to visit just to see this anomaly. Almost. I find it intriguing that there is still anyone willing to rent from a video store as opposed to the convenience of queuing up a movie on demand from their couch. Apparently, in Bend nostalgia reigns supreme. And the residents are keeping Blockbuster alive against all odds. While the rest of us may Netflix & Chill; the people of Bend live by the golden rule – Be Kind, Rewind.