After over 9,000 locations at their peak, one final Blockbuster video store remains in Bend, Oregon. I can think of no more fitting place. Blockbuster rode the wave of home video cassettes during the 80’s and 90’s, but never was able to adapt quick enough in the digital age. Blockbuster considered a streaming service in the 90’s before anyone else even knew what it was and quickly abandoned it. A critical mistake that prevented them from reinventing themselves post physical media. It’s easy to imagine Blockbuster being the modern Netflix, but fate had other ideas.
The final brick and mortar location in Bend, Oregon does prove there are niche opportunities for retail. The internet has not reached singularity yet so transportation lag remains a thing, I phones aren’t shooting out of our 3D printers yet. In addition, some human beings prefer the in-person experience when choosing their physical media. Rural areas like Bend have different needs than the city. WiFi and 4G limitations kept several Blockbuster locations open across Alaska far past their prime, but technological improvements and cost reductions have now increased rural internet access decreasing the demand for physical media.