After staving off the mass closure of stores in 2013, a Blockbuster Video in Texas is closing — leaving movie-lovers in the region very few places left to go to rent a film.
A liquidation sale held over the weekend showed the love that still remained for the movie-renting era as crowds poured into the Edinburg, Texas location, the last one in the state.
For a couple such as Rick and Liz Cavazos of McAllen, Texas, the closure was no easy ordeal. Both work for the store, and told The Monitor they first met in 1999 through the store. Rick Cavazos had filled in for another employee at Liz Cavazos’ store and now manages the Edinburg location.
“I hate to say it. It’s going to be gone,” he said. “I owe (the store) a great debt because I met my wife (here), I’m obligated to say it was the most fun job in the world, I enjoyed it — years felt like days.”
Most Blockbuster stores across Canada, the U.S. and around the world closed about eight years ago, when the company ended up in bankruptcy court in 2010. A shift from movie rentals to Netflix’s DVD-by-mail, followed by its online subscription service, led to the movie rental giant to absorb huge losses and led to the company filing for bankruptcy.
Dish Network swooped in and bought Blockbuster for about $234 million in 2011 and tried to challenge Netflix.
The gambit didn’t work, and the satellite-TV provider had to close more stores.
By 2013, many were closed and Dish announced it would close about 300 more locations, meaning a loss of about 2,800 employees, but would keep 50 franchises open.
As of January 2018, only eight remain — including two in Oregon and six in Alaska, according to Blockbuster’s website. Though even that may be short-lived as Blockbuster Alaska announced Friday it would be closing one of its six stores Sunday.
It means full extinction may be around the corner for the once-popular chain, which even now still brings out bouts of nostalgia for many. There are a few international locations remaining, but even those are few, with the Daily Mail reporting a Sydney, Australia store closed in August 2017. The Sacremento Bee reports two more in Australia, possibly the only other country with remaining stores, closed that same month, leaving only 10.
Alan Payne, president of Border Entertainment, which owns the Edinburg store as well as those in Alaska, saw the customers line the aisles this weekend.
“It was an event to go to a Blockbuster store on a Friday or Saturday night and most people if they weren’t going to the theatre, that’s what they were doing,” he told The Monitor. “For a long time it was just part of what people did on the weekends.”
Global News attempted to reach Payne, but the phone numbers for Border and the Edinburg store were disconnected.
People visiting the store packed DVDs into their arms, some carrying about 15 at a time, taking advantage of the store’s closing sales.
Payne told reporters that he plans to keep the store open for two or three more weeks until most of his inventory is sold.
—With files from The Associated Press