Everyone used to keep close tabs at their local Blockbuster video. You’d either wait until your favorite movies were released or just head over to peruse the countless shelves of VHS and DVDs. ‘Renting a movie’ was more often than not a fun experience, and a memorable part of some people’s childhoods. It was almost impossible to walk into a Blockbuster and select only one movie.
Well, if you miss that experience, you might be able to soak it all in again as the last Blockbuster store in the world, located in Bend, Oregon, has been temporarily converted into its Airbnb rental . The store’s manager, Sandi Harding, is putting it up for three one-night stays in September – but only to residents of Deschutes County in Bend. According to a press release from Tuesday, August 11 the gesture is to appreciate her host community for the endless support and to ease the tension of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In appreciation for all that the local community has recently done to support the last-of-its-kind during these uncertain times, this end of summer sleepover will offer movie lovers in Deschutes County the chance for a 90s-themed stay to relive the bygone Friday night tradition just as we remember it,” read a press release.
’90s rockers, get ready!
With relaxing blue lights, retro bed lamps, a comfortable couch, a bed, and tastefully exotic ambiance, the store will be ready for booking starting August 17 at 1 p.m. Lucky residents of the county can book a stay on September 18, 19, or 20. They’ll get to sleep amongst countless shelves of some of their favorite movies from past decades while watching their recent favorite flicks on old DVD players.
Where a regular Airbnb rental may cost anywhere from $50 to $400 or more per night, Blockbuster is charging Deschutes County residents only $4 to per night, and renting a movie while you enjoy the night costs $3.99.
The offer description reads: “Whether you want to stay up until sunrise or pass out on the couch, we’ve created the perfect space complete with a pull-out couch, bean bags, and pillows for you to cozy up with ‘new releases’ from the ’90s. Crack open a two-liter of Pepsi before locking into a video game, charting your future in a game of MASH, or watching movie after movie. But be wary of reciting ‘Bloody Mary’ in the staff bathroom off of the break room, as you just may summon the ghost rumored to haunt the store. Your Airbnb host and will stock the shelves with all the movies your heart could desire before handing over the keys.”
Bend’s 20-year-old Blockbuster store remained open during the pandemic, serving the locals and selling “Made in Oregon” merch including T-shirts, sweatpants, and sweatshirts.
The store is permitting only Deschutes County residents to apply for a stay to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission. All guests must come from the same households and must wear masks. To further ensure the safety of their “glamorous campers”, the store will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected following the CDC’s guidelines and Airbnb’s enhanced cleaning protocol.
“After the final guests check out, BLOCKBUSTER customers can check out the living room space during store hours for a limited time,” the store wrote.
Airbnb also hit Twitter for the first time in six years that Tuesday. Of course, the three-word tweet has gone viral on the platform, and it almost seems like a resurrection of sorts.
Airbnb immediately came through with a warm reception.
A once thriving business
Before the advents of Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other internet-based movie streaming services, Blockbuster was king! Founded in 1985, the video rental service had over 9 thousand stores in 2004. Over 1,300 of them were outlets in countries outside the U.S. including Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and the U.K. With a market value of $5 billion and revenues of $5.9 billion, the company employed 84,300 people worldwide – 58,500 in the United States and 25,800 in other countries .
Other video rental companies began to emerge but Blockbuster stayed on top as America’s largest video rental chain by offering a selection of over 9,000 VHS tapes in some of its major locations. They would often charge customers a small penalty fee for every day they defaulted on returning their movie tapes, a strategy that generated $800 million in revenue at the company’s peak.
The company’s troubles began when streaming services began to pop up.
The Big Mistake
In 2000, they made a mistake that ended up costing their business a decade down the line. Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix for $50 million, but they decided not to make the purchase . Alongside poor leadership, as the company continued changing hands from one private organization to another, Netflix went on to become Blockbuster’s doom.
In 2010, with debts of $1 billion, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy as it continued closing down stores worldwide . Dish Network bought the company for $320 million in 2011 and planned to keep it operational long enough to become a Netflix competitor. Their plans eventually fell through and as of 2019, only one Blockbuster store is left in the whole world – in Bend, Oregon.
Blockbuster Bend’s COVID-19 merch inscription hilariously reads: “I SURVIVED ALONG WITH THE LAST BLOCKBUSTER.”
- Tim Marcin. Last Blockbuster store is now on Airbnb for a nostalgic ’90s sleepover. Mashable. https://mashable.com/article/last-blockbuster-airbnb/ Retrieved 12-08-2020
- Christopher Harress. The Sad End Of Blockbuster Video: The Onetime $5 Billion Company Is Being Liquidated As Competition From Online Giants Netflix And Hulu Prove All Too Much For The Iconic Brand. IB Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/sad-end-blockbuster-video-onetime-5-billion-company-being-liquidated-competition-1496962 Retrieved 12-08-2020
- Frank Olito. The rise and fall of Blockbuster. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/rise-and-fall-of-blockbuster?IR=T#in-2000-blockbuster-made-the-first-mistake-that-would-mark-its-demise-the-company-decided-not-to-buy-netflix-8 Retrieved 12-08-20
- Blockbuster files for bankruptcy in US. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-11397020 Retrieved 12-08-20
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