The world’s last ever Blockbuster store is still open, despite commercial pressures that the ongoing coronavirus crisis has brought to retail stores around the world.
The 20-year-old store in Bend, Oregon, is the last remaining store in the once popular video rental chain. During the pandemic, the store has managed to remain open and keep all its staff employed after introducing new safety measures for staff and customers.
The store’s general manager, Sandi Harding told Vice News about how they managed to make the store safe: “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.’ ”
However, after closing for several days, the store re-opened with a new roadside pick-up system in place.
As reported in the New York Post, customers called Blockbuster to request and pay for a film before receiving a sanitised DVD in a zipped bag.
Blockbuster billboard in Bend, Oregon. pic.twitter.com/HpDkJvWSnB
— mildlyinteresting (@thatsquitecool) May 7, 2020
After this, the store then re-opened with a maximum of ten people allowed at a time. Staff wear gloves and masks and clean each DVD before and after it leaves the store.
They have also made signs to help customers safely navigate the store and retain social distancing measures.
Harding later joked: “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.”
At its peak, Blockbuster had over 9000 stores around the world. In December 2013, the long-running rental chain called in administrators in the UK.
“It is with regret that we have to make today’s announcement, we appreciate this is a difficult time for all concerned and would like to thank staff for their professionalism and support over the past month,” said joint administrators Simon Thomas and Nick O’Reilly at the time.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a buyer for the group as a going concern and as a result had to take the regrettable action to close the remaining stores.”