Inside the world’s last Blockbuster store, somehow still standing proud

It’s the Castle-esque underdog story of our time; the world’s last-ever Blockbuster store is still standing, against all odds.

The store in the city of Bend, Oregon has laughed in the face of Netflix and is currently spitting on the global health crisis, miraculously managing to keep its doors open.


The world’s last-ever Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon is miraculously still open. It has somehow survived Netflix and COVID-19 in a stunning display of defiance.

One would be justified in wondering how this is even possible. Streaming services have been the norm for several years now, ultimately spelling the end for rental chains. Meanwhile, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has had catastrophic effects on even the most relevant businesses.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, however. Throw in some savvy leadership and some business model alterations, and it’s clear how they’ve managed to keep their head above water as the world’s sole remaining link in the Blockbuster chain for over a year.

Leaning into the novelty of its imminent demise, the store has begun selling merch in addition to rental films. Customers can pick up a bumper sticker that reads “I survived along with the last Blockbuster”. 

Meanwhile, hoodies, caps, and t-shirts with the company logo pose as future collector’s items when the franchise eventually dies. According to the Bend Blockbuster manager, Sandi Harding, the unstable threat of COVID-19 means that this day could come at any time.

“The longer it goes on, the more stress there is for everyone, and the more I’m like ‘Oh gosh, can we really sustain this?”

“You’re in a tight spot, because part of you is looking at the economics of it and thinking ‘I have to have customers coming and spending money, or my business isn’t going to be viable,’ but at the same time, I’m like the Blockbuster Mom. These are my kids that work here, the customers are my family and, my gosh, I can’t put them at risk either. Your heart is just torn in two different directions.”

Despite Sandi’s resilience, Blockbuster will inevitably come to an end of poetic irony. All the way back in 2000, the company was approached by the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, with an opportunity to buy the eventual streaming giant for a pittance of $50 million.

Needless to say, they didn’t take it.