Change Has Come
In 2011, the last Killeen, Texas location of Blockbuster Video closed. It was on S. Fort Hood Street in a busy area. Since then, the building has turned over a few businesses, and it is currently the location of First Pawn Shop. As of today the business Blockbuster Video is an anomaly as there is one location left in the world, which is in Bend, Oregon.
Blockbuster Video has its roots in Texas. It opened its first store in Dallas in 1985. Blockbuster Video was a company that dominated the video renting industry in the 80’s and 90’s until Netflix and Redbox began dominating the market by providing less expensive DVD rental options and in Netflix’s case, streaming services.
Businesses closing and relocating are commonplace in Killeen, Texas. With the current pandemic, business closures are becoming the norm around the nation and the world. It is interesting to think if Blockbuster Video survived the rise of Netflix and Redbox, would Blockbuster Video continue to survive through the COVID-19 outbreak when everyone was urged to stay at home?
A Diamond in the Rough
We do have the example of the Blockbuster Video store in Oregon, which is still thriving despite the pandemic. The video store is run independently from the corporation. Typically, the Blockbuster Video store buys its DVDs from a local DVD distributor. However, when it closed due to the pandemic, the general manager went to major retailers to buy DVDs. Though they had to close twice since the outbreak started, the video store reopened with safety measures to keep their customers and employees safe. After the first closure, the store reopened to provide curbside service for the first time in the store’s history. After the second closure, the store reopened with measures to make it safe enough to let customers inside. They “started taping social distancing markers and directional arrows on the floors, DIY-ing their own Clorox wipes out of heavy-duty shop towels and stocking up masks and gloves.” Meanwhile, the store’s owners continued to pay the entire staff.
Oregon May Bend but Won’t Break
According to an article from CBS News, “The Bend, Oregon, store became the last Blockbuster location on the planet last spring, after a location in Australia closed.
“Blockbuster Video was once the biggest video rental chain in the U.S., with almost 9,000 stores worldwide. At one time, it is estimated a new store opened every 17 hours. But with the arrival of Netflix, Blockbuster stores began disappearing. After bankruptcy in 2010, Blockbuster shuttered almost all of its stores.”
Perhaps it is the small community of Bend, Oregon that keeps the Blockbuster Video store thriving. Its population is less than 100,000. Or perhaps it is the appeal of the nostalgia in visiting the video store to rent movies. Regardless, the store’s uniqueness helps in appealing to their customers, and it makes on the same playing field as local independent businesses, much like the ones in Central Texas.