Not even a global pandemic can stop the last blockbuster in the world
By this point, it’s starting to look like the last Blockbuster in the world, in Bend, Oregon, is going to outlive us all. Deadset, despite the fact it’s now legit the last Blockbuster, this one just keeps finding ways to keep going. Yeah, nah, it’s like a franchise that just keeps on plugging away. After the other two Blockbusters that had defied the laws of progress folded, many thought this one wouldn’t be far behind. They were wrong. So far, not even Covid-19 has managed to make it close its doors indefinitely.
Of course, it’s pretty easy to hyperbolise the reasons why and make out that it’s some sort of freak of nature, and that’s why we like to do it. Because, let’s face it, if the apocalypse, the rapture, or a return of the dinosaurs ever sends humanity to Destination F**ked, the last Blockbuster in the world wouldn’t be a bad place to sit out the end of days.
In reality, though, the truth is probably down to good business practices, and a genuine passion for what they’re doing. Sandi Harding is a General Manager like Mother Abigail. While streaming services, pandemics, and piracy rage, she’s out there buying new releases to stock her shelves.
“The big title for next week is Call of the Wild. I usually start out with 30 [copies] on DVD, and 12 to 14 Blu-Ray. I’ll go to Walmart, Target, Fred Meyer, every retailer we have here in town, and I’ll only get five or 10 from each one. They don’t like me very much if I come in and just wipe out their shelves, so I try to be conscientious of that, and make sure that I leave movies for their regular customers as well.”
It’s that same kind of care that saw her aim to keep the store open through social distancing. “Unfortunately, after I got five or six people in here, everybody would be converging in the same area. I wasn’t able to keep people apart, and I thought ‘Well, this isn’t going to work.’”
The solution was to close down for a bit and reopen with a curbside service that let people order movies ahead of time. Don’t get us wrong, though. We might’ve made it sound easy, but it sure as s**t wasn’t. “I have to have customers coming and spending money or my business isn’t going to be viable, but at the same time, I’m like the Blockbuster Mom. These are my kids that work here, the customers are my family and, my gosh, I can’t put them at risk either. Your heart is just torn in two different directions.”
During the close-down, they managed to re-catalogue all the titles, put down social distancing markings and give the store a good clean. Once they reopened, it was back to business. “I had a customer come in and she said, ‘I am so grateful that you reopened, because I couldn’t flip through Netflix one more time.”
Since that moment, the store has kept going, and so far, it looks like it might be able to outlast the virus. If they can manage it, it’d be f**ken grouse!
Final thought: Honestly, as we said, it’s hard not to mythologise what’s going on there. Whichever way you look at it, though, it is pretty f**ken incredible that a mainstream movie rental business is still going strong. You could see it happening in a niche field, but with all the big genres covered by streaming services and the dreaded downloaders, there’s gotta be something special going on. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Just in case you missed it, here’s one of Ozzy’s latest commentary videos…Ozzy Man Reviews: Barbecuing
Video Link: Inside Edition