At its peak in the 1990s, Blockbuster operated more than 9,000 stores across the United States, renting VHS movies and video games to an entertainment-hungry society. They were the only game in town: Netflix, Redbox, and video-on-demand services did not yet exist. In the 2000s, though, the bubble burst, and in 2010, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Dish Network bought 1,700 stores in 2011 and tried to reinvent the brand, but by then the public had moved on to new technologies. Today, there are only seven Blockbuster franchises remaining in the United States: five in Alaska and two in Oregon.
Don't forget to rewind:
- Blockbuster’s beginnings can be traced to David and Sandy Cook, who founded Blockbuster Video and opened their first store on October 19, 1985 in Dallas, Texas.
- The largest cluster of surviving Blockbusters are in Alaska (two in Anchorage and one each in Fairbanks, North Pole, and Soldotna), where long winters and expensive WiFi mean that the stores still have a core of loyal customers.
- Internet service is expensive in Alaska, and most data packages are not unlimited. Consumers are charged by the gigabyte, leaving Netflix streamers with hefty monthly bills.