Located in the city of Bend, Oregon (about 160 miles from Portland), be prepared to be transported back to your 90s kid youth when you see this perfectly preserved Last Blockbuster on Earth. Yes, you read that right. There is still a Blockbuster operating in Oregon and you can totally visit it.
Let me backtrack a little for those of you who have no idea what Blockbuster is or why this is so blogworthy:
Blockbuster was an American-based video and game rental store that was founded in 1985 in Dallas, Texas as “Blockbuster Video”, known for its signature yellow and blue. That very first store opened with an inventory of approximately 8000 VHS tapes and 2000 Beta tapes. This quickly grew into a massive franchise and at its peak in 2004, Blockbuster had 9094 stores worldwide and employeed over 84,000 people. A number of reasons, including poor leadership, the Great Recession, as well as growing competition from video-on-demand and Redbox automated kiosks led to a significant loss in revenue. By 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection. Some franchises remained open after that time but all of them ended up closing their doors. That is, except for one.
The Last Blockbuster on Earth
As you walk up to the doors, you’ll notice the old Blockbuster sign and the DVD return slot. This isn’t just nostalgia, but a functioning movie rental business hosting locals and tourists alike. The carpets look like the old grey carpets I remember from the 90s. The walls are the same pale yellow from my youth. Walking around this Blockbuster will bring back so many sense memories. The aisles of films are all organized and categorized by genre and when you grab a DVD to rent, you’ll see that placeholder DVD case behind it. And they still showcase their staff picks if you are undecided.
As you walk to the cash register, there are lots of snacks waiting to tempt you, just like you remember. Oh, and they still use that IBM floppy disk computer from the 80s to scan your rental and add it to your account. Actually, it’s my understanding they sourced as many of those old computers from closed Blockbusters as possible because it’s the only way for them to operate the business at this point and, well, repairs on 80s floppy disk computers are likely… challenging? But, also, 1000 points to Blockbuster for keeping the experience as authentic as possible.
Now it does differ a bit from the Blockbuster I remember. And this is likely how it keeps the doors open. At the center of this store is a lot of merchandise. Hilarious, wonderful, clever merchandise. Joggers, shirts, fanny packs, hats. All with the Blockbuster logo on it or some other fun design. My favorite is the shirt that said “Blockbuster and chill”. They have cups and games and posters and magnets and holiday ornaments. You can even purchase a Blockbuster rental card (which they don’t make in house anymore since they don’t have the equipment any more.) They also have some fun displays and photo ops, like a wall of VHS tapes, as well as some movie memorabilia, including a note from Russell Crowe.
Best part, anyone can setup an account at this Blockbuster for free, as long as you have a valid ID on hand. Your membership comes with your very own Blockbuster card filled out by an employee (the ones you buy come blank), which is definitely a keepsake souvenir from a different time.
Be kind and rewind time with a visit to the Last Blockbuster on Earth. Help preserve a bit of history and a huge part of 90s and 2000s culture while also having more than a little bit a fun. Oh, and make sure if you take photos and videos that include the staff that you ask their permission first.