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The last Blockbuster – Alaska video shop closures leave one left in US

The once-ubiquitous video rental chain has gradually succumbed to technological change.

Alaska’s last two Blockbuster video shops are to close – leaving just one left in the whole of the US.

The stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks will close for rentals after Sunday night and reopen on Tuesday for video liquidation sales through to the end of August.

The move will leave the Blockbuster in the city of Bend, Oregon, as the last in America.

Kevin Daymude, general manager of Blockbuster Alaska, said of the temporary reopening: “It’s going to be crazy.”

He said residents were sad when they heard the news, with many people reminiscing about Blockbuster – a once familiar sight on both sides of the Atlantic.

Last two Blockbusters in Alaska are closing. It's a sad day for us.

Posted by Blockbuster Alaska on Thursday, July 12, 2018

The news was announced to Alaskans on Blockbuster Alaska’s Facebook page.

The closures come just two months after the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver sent a jockstrap worn by Russell Crowe in the 2005 movie Cinderella Man and other items to the Anchorage store, which put them on display in an effort to ramp up business.

Mr Daymude says the buzz from the Oliver connection brought more people to the store.

“You would not believe how much business we got just from that memorabilia alone,” he said. “I can’t thank John Oliver or his show enough.”

But the gesture was not enough to counter a planned lease increase at both Alaska locations.

The jockstrap will probably go to the franchise owner, Alan Payne, who lives outside Austin, Texas.

In its heyday, Blockbuster had 15 stores in Alaska, Mr Daymude said. Some in more remote, less populated parts of the state began closing in the early 2000s.

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Streaming services and cheaper DVDs have meant a once-common experience – going to the video shop – is a thing of the past (Tim Ireland/PA)

In recent years, Blockbuster stores have vanished in most of the US.

Their survival lasted longer in Alaska, with some crediting expensive internet coverage as a factor in keeping many people renting videos rather than streaming.

The closures will leave Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon, as the last store standing.

“How exciting,” said the Bend store’s general manager Sandi Harding. “It might end up being a little chaotic for a couple of weeks.”

As for the fate of that store, the future looks less bleak.

“We have no plans on closing anytime soon,” Ms Harding said.

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