May 30, 2013

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Bye, Bye Blockbuster

The last local holdout of the once-mighty chain closes

The inevitable is finally happening. Chattanooga’s last Blockbuster is shutting its doors. 

The Chattanooga area used to be home to seven Blockbuster stores—until most of them closed in the wake of the company declaring bankruptcy in 2010. The Highway 58 location lingered on because the company owned the building it was housed in. But that final store location will shut down on June 13. 

Blockbuster was, of course, a staple of film and game lovers for decades. For many years, it was the only way to rent new movies and video games. At its peak, the company operated 9,000 stores nationwide.  But, as options grew and customers switched their preferences to more instant services, decline ensued. 

Dish Network bought the bankrupt company in April 2011 for $320 million, but Blockbuster never recovered. The rise of streaming services like Netflix and OnDemand, along with convenient movie vending machines like Redbox, eliminated the need for brick and mortar stores. As of March 2013, the company only had 650 stores remaining, with another 150 expected to close this quarter, according to ValueWalk.com.

As a former employee, I can say it’s no surprise to see them totally wiped out of the area. They were too stubborn and too slow to adapt to a changing landscape—eventually offering streaming services and vending machines, but too long after other companies paved the way and staked their claim to the movie rental business.

The store on Highway 58 is holding an everything-must-go closing sale until the closing date, from DVDs to shelves to gumball machines. Say your goodbyes and pick up some cheap flicks at 4531 Highway 58 before it’s gone for good.

—Carson O'Shoney

May 30, 2013

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