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Some C. Oregon big-name stores buck national woes

Sears, Blockbuster Video thrive independently

C.O. stores buck national woes

BEND, Ore. - The veteran department store Sears has been making headlines this week about its uncertain future, but the outlets in Central Oregon are faring better than -- and quite separate from -- their national counterparts.

That's because they're locally owned and operated "Sears Hometown Stores" and are not affiliated with the Sears corporation in any way but the name.

But that doesn't stop the confusion, even among some loyal customers. People lately have asked if they're going to be closing soon.

"People are worried about -- 'Do we buy from you? Are you still going to be here?'" Sears Hometown Store co-owner Heidi Wood said Thursday. "You know, 'Yes, we are.'"

There are other examples of this phenomenon in Central Oregon -- Radio Shack has filed for bankruptcy twice in just over two years, but their store in Bend is still open for business.

And then there's another familiar name -- to some, a blast from the past. There are only a handful of Blockbuster video stores left in the U.S., but the independently owned ones in Bend and Redmond are still kicking.

"Maybe just because we have a lot of tourists that come up from California -- and they had that in California, too," Blockbuster Assistant Manager Emma Lindemann said. "They're all shut down there now, too, so that's probably why we're so successful here."

There's another reason people come to Blockbuster: They see the store as something of a time capsule.

"We have a lot of repeat customers," Lindemann said. "But we also have a lot of tourists that come in and take pictures and just love walking around."

There are more practical reasons people still go to the video store in the age of Neflix, Hulu, Redbox and the like.

"I come to Blockbuster when Redbox doesn't have what I want," said Bend resident Alex Rice. "Sometimes Redbox doesn't carry it for two or three months."

It seems Central Oregonians have a way of keeping their favorite stores alive -- even if the corporations that share (or shared) their name are struggling or even gone.


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