Bend has the last Blockbuster - and lots of attention

Video store survivor outlasts all the others

Bend boasts last US Blockbuster

BEND, Ore. - And then there was one.

After Thursday's announcement that two Blockbuster movie rental stores in Alaska are closing down, Bend is now home to the last store standing in the United States.

And that title has given the Central Oregon location quite a bit of attention, said store manager, Dan Montgomery. Especially media calls and interviews.

"CNN, New York Post, The New York Times called yesterday," Montgomery said Friday.

"I’ve done phone interviews with people from Canada. I did a radio interview with a station in Australia yesterday. Yeah, that was interesting," he added.

Loyal customers like C.L. Henry say they're hopeful the Bend store will be able to keep its doors open.

"I’m sorry to hear they are the last store in the United States. They’ve always been great to me, and I’ve always been a loyal customer, and I will miss them dearly if they close," Henry said.

But as of right now, Bend's Blockbuster has no plans to do so, according to General Manager Sandi Harding.

"I tell people all the time you can sit at home in your pajamas and watch a movie on Netflix or Amazon or Hulu, but there's something special about coming in and carrying around that box and talking to the other customers or employee about movies," Harding said.

And customers like Ashton Marsh agree.

"I still prefer to come and rent movies from the local store, because it supports our community. And there are things they have that I sometimes don’t find on Amazon or Netflix and they will have it in stock," Marsh said.

Bend resident Sally Weber said she's been coming to the Bend Blockbuster for eight years.

"They’re friendly. I like them here. It’s convenient, works for me," Weber said.

Pete Shirley said the convenience is what keeps him coming back.

"It's come down to this one. It’s sad. But hey, we use it a lot. It’s real convenient with the pizza store next door," Shirley said.

But it wasn’t just the Blockbuster regulars strolling the aisles on Friday. People in the store were from everywhere from Portland to New York, taking photos and getting their last glimpse of the last Blockbuster in the country.

"We’ve already had a bunch of people come in this morning, saying that their kids had never been in a Blockbuster, so they came here so their kids could see what a Blockbuster was like," Montgomery said.

So what’s the store's secret to staying open all these years?

According to customer C.L. Henry, it's simple. 

"There are movies you just can’t get on TV, and that’s why I come here," Henry said. "And there are good people behind the counter too." 

But the store says it's a bit of everything.

"The biggest shout-out I have to give is to our local support," Harding said. "We have wonderful, loyal customers. I can’t say enough about them. Without our loyal customers, we wouldn't still be here." 

"And my staff," she added. "We have a wonderful staff that is friendly and outgoing and know about movies and love to talk about them, so it’s great."

The northeast Bend Blockbuster location started out as Pacific Video in 1992. It became a Blockbuster in 2000 and has been operating ever since. 

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