Why this small city in Oregon is perfect for the last Blockbuster

Blockbuster closed two more stores in Alaska on Sunday, making the Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon, the last Blockbuster in America.

“So the question is, what makes Bend, Oregon, so weird?” Yahoo Finance Editor-In-Chief Andy Serwer asked on Midday Movers. “I know you got the High Desert Museum out there, where you can pet, like, snowy owls. I want to go to the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon and go to that Blockbuster.”

The manager of the Bend Blockbuster attributes its longevity to community support.

“I think we have a lot of local community support,” said Sandi Harding, the manager of the store, told Yahoo Finance. “Overall, we’ve actually done very well at this location. As a general rule — we’re doing well.”

(AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Rob Enderle, a tech expert based in Bend, told Yahoo Finance that the business makes economic sense since “land isn’t at a huge premium so once a store closes it tends to stay vacant for some time, so closing the store wouldn’t have resulted in more revenue, likely less, for the landowner.”

Enderle added that the steady stream of visitors to the city of 91,000 helps the retro rental store.

“Bend is a largely a resort town which means around 30% to 40% of the folks just come here on weekends or vacations,” Enderle said. “In addition, the folks that do live here tend to be outdoors types, [caring] less about technology than about becoming one with nature. They spend on things like good bikes and skis not smart homes and streaming services.”


‘Needed: a friend to road trip with me to Bend, Oregon’

Blockbuster was born in Dallas in 1985, catering to growing demand in the video rental market. At its peak in 1993, it had over 3,400 locations. The rental video chain filed for bankruptcy in September 2010, and stores began to shutter.

Interest in the Bend location has surged since the news broke, with some Twitter users signaling their intention to take a trip down memory lane.

Sandi Harding stands outside America’s only remaining Blockbuster Video in Bend, Oregon. (BRIAN BULL / KLCC)

Enderle also ascribes some of the credit to the store manager herself. He said that part of the outlet’s longevity in Bend was “due to the fact the store manager made the store a nice place to visit and now it is bit of a tourist attraction so we may have it for some time yet.”

To that, Harding simply said, “our customers know that they can consistently get the same service.”

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