Blockbuster leaving city blocks everywhere



The blockbuster sign faces southwest near the corner of 36th St. and Highway 370. A large sign now advertises the store’s closing. Photo by Courtney Swift

With digital and direct mail services like RedBox and Netflix dominating the movie rental business, Blockbuster’s retail stores are going the way of snail mail, encyclopedias and the dodo bird.

By New Year’s Day 2014, the remaining 300 Blockbuster stores will be closed, and owning company DISH Network will focus on streaming movies for Dish customers, according to Time magazine.

The decision came on Nov. 6, after company president Joseph Clayton concluded that “consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” according to the Huffington Post.

As a result, stores everywhere are liquidating their inventories. At the Bellevue Blockbuster, located on the corner of 36th St. and Highway 370, stacks of blank cd cases, paper clips, staples and toner cartridges are piled on tables. Vibrant signs adorn the walls, reading in all caps “entire store on sale” and “store closing.”

“I used to get my movies when I was little from there; that’s sad,” sophomore Mackenzie Threet said.

And for those receiving their movies via mail, the Blockbuster By Mail service will be cancelled in mid-December, according to the Huffington Post.

The store-wide clear out is a stark contrast to its heyday, when friends, families and anyone looking to view a previously released film would stop at the iconic, blue ticket stub.

“I hung out with my friends a lot, so I had to rent movies [at Blockbuster],” sophomore Bryn Estlund said.

In the past, Blockbuster stores were required to have a minimum 7,000 movies, and on average held 10,000 more videos than many of their competitors, according to a CNN interview with Dan Herbert, author of Videoland and film professor at the University of Michigan.

“It has a bigger selection and it has older movies, so I can watch movies from the 80’s,” Estlund said.

In part, this helped to place the company on a national level during the 1980s, forcing many locally owned video rental stores to close.

But Blockbuster isn’t the only film rental store in town. Family Video, a company which operates more than 775 stores in both the U.S. and Canada, remains open for business at its location off Galvin Rd.

Some students visit Family Video in conjunction with their online streaming services.

“Family Video or Netflix: It’s better [than Blockbuster] because it’s free and cheaper and you have the movies longer,” senior Makayla Emerson said.

Many students, however, gave up visiting brick and mortar video stores long ago, opting for digital streaming and direct mailing services offered by companies like Redbox and Netflix.

“I typically use Netflix and I watch off of my PS3 and or Blu Ray,” junior Francis Mejia said. “You wouldn’t have to worry about returning them on time and it’s quicker to just click on a show or a movie and just start watching.”

Whether renting solely from online streaming or from a hybrid of digital and physical means, movie watchers still have the option of choosing their films how they see fit, even if Blockbuster’s retail stores are leaving city blocks everywhere.

Grant Harrison
Commentary Editor