In the late 1990s, video stores were all the rage across the United States—so much so, trips to Hollywood Video and Blockbuster Video were events unto themselves. It was possible to peruse rows upon rows of DVDs dating back decades—while new releases lined the walls, in-store televisions played the latest trailers, and bags of popcorn and sugary snacks filled tubs near the cash register. Siblings bickered over what to rent, cinephiles found lone copies of rare titles, and families jostled to stop by before the last copies of “Men in Black” or “Armageddon” flew off the shelves on Friday night.
The arrival of Netflix changed all that, making it possible to rent movies without leaving home, and the dominance of streaming services rendered video stores obsolete altogether. Almost.
Blockbuster Video filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and many thought that was the end of the chain—noted for its brightly lit stores and blue-and-yellow color scheme. A few stores hung on for another nine years, but today, the last Blockbuster store on Earth is in Bend, Oregon.
How did this happen? And what’s the experience like today? We take you inside the last Blockbuster to answer some of your most common questions—including:
Read on for more about the last Blockbuster Video in Bend, Oregon.
What Happened to Blockbuster?
Video rental stores were flying high in the late 1990s, but the arrival of Netflix—which launched in 1998—threatened their home-entertainment supremacy. In its infancy, Netflix allowed users to rent DVDs by mail, without ever leaving their home, after choosing from a library of thousands of titles. The service’s red envelopes were iconic sights in mailboxes and quickly began crowding out video stores. Automated rental kiosks from Redbox and burgeoning video-on-demand services also entered the crowded marketplace in the early 2000s, as well, dealing additional blows to the fate of Blockbuster.
Blockbuster Video tried competing with its own DVD-by-mail service, but it was too little, too late: The corporate chain filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Stores that had been corporate-owned shuttered over the following four years, leaving a few stray franchise locations around the world. These closed, one by one, until March 2019—leaving the last Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon.
Today, the last brick-and-mortar Blockbuster on Earth remains one of the top things to do when visiting Bend, Oregon—and keeps its enormous popularity intact by renting movies, selling souvenirs, and offering a trip down memory lane.
Photo credit: @robbiemcclaran
Why Visit Blockbuster in Bend
There’s no denying that the last remaining Blockbuster is a unique tourist attraction. Here’s what brings visitors to the video rental store every day:
Blast from the past: It may be hard to imagine now, but Blockbuster Videos once filled strip malls across the United States. Walking through the aisles today feels like a trip back in time—when dozens of copies of the latest hit movie filled entire walls and classics covered metal aisles across the expansive stores. The Blockbuster in Bend retains that vibe and looks just as it might have in the early 2000s.
Souvenirs: The last Blockbuster feels a bit like a museum that pays tribute to Blockbuster’s glory days—complete with movie memorabilia, titles for sale, candy, and souvenirs. Pick up a T-shirt, key chain, coffee mug, and laminated membership card to commemorate the experience.
Movies for rent: Yes, you can still rent movies at Blockbuster today. Visitors with a credit or debit card and one form of government-issued identification (such as a driver’s license) can rent Blu-rays and DVDs to watch back at their hotel—provided your lodging offers the right equipment.
Family fun: Kids enjoy a look at how video stores used to work, while their parents have fun reminiscing about their own youthful trips. The store is open year-round, but it’s one of the best-loved winter activities in Central Oregon whenever the days get cool.
How the Last Blockbuster is Still Open
At its peak, Blockbuster Video boasted nearly 9,100 stores across the United States and was a pop culture institution—its famous slogan encouraged fans to “make it a Blockbuster night”—so how has just one survived? And why has it endured in Bend, of all places?
The answer boils down to the store’s connection to Bend—and what that means to both locals and visitors.
The Bend Blockbuster is owned, operated, and run by locals who have been community members for decades; much of its merchandise is even crafted in Bend, and earnings are funneled back into keeping the store thriving for future generations. Even after Blockbuster Video filed for bankruptcy, the community of Bend collectively showed up to support a locally owned business—one that has remained steadfast in the face of streaming services and other technological advances.
That story of resilience and dogged determination has resonated with countless movie fans. Every year, thousands of visitors from around the world descend on the store to browse its aisles and pick up a piece of merchandise—much of which is emblazoned with Blockbuster’s famous phrase: “Be Kind, Rewind.” (Is it any wonder that visiting the store is one of the top things to do in Central Oregon?)
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Kid-Friendly Activities in Central Oregon
For many, Central Oregon is synonymous with spring break, summer vacation, holiday outings, and family gatherings. And it’s no wonder: The region is home to a variety of kid-friendly activities (indoors and out) that range from educational museums to speedy go-kart tracks. And that’s to say nothing of the region’s many parks, several of which host fun-filled playgrounds where your little ones can play to their hearts’ content.
Central Oregon shines in the wintertime—and, luckily, there’s plenty of time to enjoy it: The Cascades can enjoy their first dusting of snow as early as September, and Mt. Bachelor—the region’s most popular ski resort—may remain open until Memorial Day. Even away from the mountains, snow is routinely in the seven-day forecast throughout winter in the likes of Bend, Sunriver, La Pine, and other lower-elevation communities around the region.