This past month we traveled to Oregon for a family reunion in a beautiful place called Sunriver outside of Bend. My wife’s family has been doing this off and on before I was even part of the family some 28 years ago. When I married my wife, I ventured to Sunriver for many reunions of fun biking, hiking, golfing, and lounging. It has been six years since our last visit and much has changed in those six years, so it was good to reconnect with family in a low stress vacation environment.
During the pre-trip planning, I remembered Bend was the final bastion for the now defunct, bankrupt, parted out company known as BLOCKBUSTER Video. After watching the death, of the video rental stores these past 10 years, my wife and I had to go and show our son what our Friday night rituals entailed. In the video, as we drive to the store, we discuss the memories of renting videos.
Many people say that it was streaming that killed the video rental store or Netflix and the mail in DVDs. I disagree with both. I think it has something to do with mismanagement, a disconnect from the customer base, and the Powers that Be, who would like a cheaper way to distribute media to make more profit. One thing the video rental store created was a destination place and a sense of community. My wife and I got to know the employees, store managers, and even a few owners of the Mom and Pop stores we frequented. We enjoyed walking the aisles looking for the perfect movie to encourage us or inspire us after a hard week at work. My wife and I usually bought a u-bake pizza and enjoyed a movie on our couch. Or, we would prepare a gourmet meal we would purchase at the grocery store, halibut or swordfish steaks, pasta Alfredo and the current veggie at the time. We knew fellow customers by face and said hello; we discussed with strangers about favorite movies while waiting to check out our movies in line and soon they too became acquaintances. We stood in line with real people, with real lives. Today, you may be scrolling through the endless reviews looking for some help with deciding on a video and you may be reading the programmed review of a bot or a paid influencer who receives a dollar per thousand clicks. No sense of community, just manipulation.
At the Last BLOCKBUSTER we felt that sense of community engagement again. We engaged with other families that were also showing their children the experience of BLOCKBUSTER. We discussed with customers about our shared experiences that have been lost in time these past five years. We talked over the t-shirts and other merchandise, browsed the movies sale tables and discussed with other customers all with smiles on our faces enjoying the nostalgia.
As far as the future goes, there will never be a rebirth of BLOCKBUSTER. Unless the rights sell from the current owner Dish Network who have no plans to ever see BLOCKBUSTER achieve its former glory. Where does that leave video rentals? Netflix was seen as the villain to the destruction of the video store, but I think times are changing. As Netflix changes its philosophy from customer “service” to customer “control”, they have begun to lose subscribers in mass. As the company engages in creating programs that ignore ratings guidelines for families and children and traditional shows disappear from their register, more loss subscriptions will follow. It is interesting when executives from these large corporations can’t believe that many people don’t want to buy the trash they are pushing. We left Netflix over two years ago and haven’t looked back. We do not use a streaming service except for the free YouTube and others, but even finding decent content has become a challenge. We found our library to be the best place to find good shows as we are now watching season 3 of the original Magnum series and can complete series because all episodes are available there.
Please feel free to comment and share your memories of the video rental store or if you still have an active one in your area. I must admit my favorite video rental chain was not BLOCKBUSTER, but Hollywood Video. However, our favorite stores to this day will always remain the Mom and Pop’s who opened the store on the corner and ran the local community gathering spot on a Friday night.
10 thoughts on “Vacation Destination the Last BLOCKBUSTER?”
That was so cool! I can’t believe you had to drove from Sand Point, Idaho to Bend, Oregon. How far was the drive?? But I think as excited as you were to visit “The ONLY Blockbuster Store” left was worth the drive. You-all always find ways to make a LONG drive a fun outing. Love Ya! Aunt Dawn
Aunt Dawn, we drove up from Sunriver where we were at my wife’s family reunion. When were that close to the last Blockbuster, we had to go one last time. My son had never been in a video store before. The drive between Sunriver and Sandpoint takes about 8.5 hours pending 1 stop for gas.
Our love goes out to you and the family. God is good.
We were in Sunriver all of last week with the kids! All 15 of us floated the river. And Kelsey and Folu stopped in at the Blockbuster store on Sunday. When were you in Sunriver?
July 11th – 16th. Sunriver is a great place. I took Kirt and his cousins to the retro arcade at the village. I might do a post on that. Did you bike to Benham Falls? There was 15 of us too.
No we didn’t. I’ll look it up for next time. We biked all over Sunriver, kids played tennis, pickle ball, went to the pool, and we got to know a new boyfriend. Haha! Lots of talking with everyone! We only see everyone once every year or two.
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Sounds like a great time. Sunriver has a paved trail now all the way to Benham Falls, except for the last 1/2 mile. On the map, it’s the same trail to Lava Lands off circle 7. You’ll have to check it out. I rented an electric bike due to a knee injury and pending surgery, so the electric pedal assist bike made it easy for me. However, my 80 year old father-in-law road all the way on his beach cruiser. Great family trip, 10 miles roundtrip from circle 4.
New boyfriend? I’m doing the math and only one daughter comes to mind. How cool is that?
Great story. Loved it. Brought back Great memories.
Thanks mom. Good times.
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I only have a few memories of Blockbuster. I was with my grandpa and he was returning a movie. Might sound weird, but Blockbuster always had a very specific smell. I wonder where all those movies are now…