Against all odds, even in the face of an unprecedented global event, Blockbuster Video is clinging to life. Famously, the final location of the once-popular video rental chain is operating in Bend, Oregon. But can the store survive as businesses all around the country are facing a great deal of uncertainty with stay-at-home orders in place? Amazingly, for now at least, the answer is yes.

A recent report reveals that the last Blockbuster store is still open and operating as we speak. The store is taking extra measures, such as enforcing social distancing guidelines with customers and limiting capacity, to comply with current restrictions placed by the government. The store is currently offering curbside pickup, which is something many businesses have turned to in adapting to the situation at hand. Sandi Harding, the store's general manager, had this to say.

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"We've faced many challenges over the years and we've managed to muddle through and we will this one too,"

It's true that this store has defied seemingly all modern logic to stay in business for this long, years after Blockbuster fell from grace. Oregon's Blockbuster location has also placed arrows on the ground in the store to help guide foot traffic so that customers can maintain a safe distance from one another. Employees are also wiping down each video before and after it leaves the store. Sandi Harding explained that their employees are wearing gloves and mask as well, in addition to taking further precautions.

"Everyone is wearing gloves. We have masks now for the employees that we had to wait for that we just got in this week. We have one way in, one way out. Max of 10 people in the store."

At the height of its power, Blockbuster Video operated more than 9,000 stores worldwide and was a true haven for movie fans. Aside from theaters, the chain was the most readily available place in the country to enjoy cinema. Business peaked in 2004 but then the decline started. The rise of streaming services and a decline in the need for physical media spelled disaster for the company. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and the decline from there was steep. Yet, a few stores managed to hang on for several years. Bend, Oregon's location remains the lone survivor.

During the lockdown, streaming services have seen a massive spike in use, with Netflix reporting record growth and Disney+ surpassing 50 million subscribers worldwide. Though, piracy has also seen significant spikes during this period. The overall point is that people are hungry for movies to watch right now, given the lack of options. For a select few, that still means heading to the local Blockbuster to rent a physical copy of whatever it is they want to watch that must be returned on time, or risk racking up some late fees. That is nothing shy of miraculous. This news comes to us via Inside Edition.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott