Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The end of Blockbuster Video

The last Blockbuster Video store in the UK closed on this day in 2013.

Blockbuster Video in Fallowfield, Manchester

I've spent a lot of 2020 reminiscing about 'the good old days' before the coronavirus pandemic hit the planet. One of my areas of interest is in old retail brands - I'm a marketer by profession and two of my first jobs in the 1990's and the year 2000 were at Tandy and Toys R Us. It's been fascinating to find remnants of a number of lost, dead and defunct brands on the high street and at retail parks.

Blockbuster Video Express in Colne, Lancashire
Blockbuster Video Express in Colne, Lancashire this summer

One of those lost brands is Blockbuster.

Blockbuster ceased operations in the UK in December 2013. At the start of that year there were 528 Blockbuster locations in the UK. The number dwindled until October when only 264 shops remained. The remaining stores closed on the 16th December.

The first Blockbuster Video store had opened in Dallas, Texas, USA on the 19th October 1985.

Blockbuster Video in Fallowfield, Manchester

We live near an abandoned Blockbuster Video store here in Manchester. It's always an eerie, interesting and nostalgic thing to drive past the old shop at Fallowfield Retail Park.

Blockbuster Video in Fallowfield, Manchester

Blockbuster Video in Fallowfield, Manchester
2020 and 2013 meet - Covid-19 social distancing signage on the ground next to the remaining signage at the Blockbuster Video store in Fallowfield

The sign about the closure is still on the window there.

The end of Blockbuster Video in the UK

Blockbuster Video in the UK

At its peak in 2004 there were more than 9,000 Blockbuster stores around the world. 500+ of which were in England, Scotland and Wales. Interestingly in Northern Ireland the Xtra-Vision brand was used by the owners in-line with the Republic of Ireland.

Blockbuster Video entered the UK video rental market in 1989 following the purchase of Ritz Video.

The Last Blockbuster Video

There is still one last remaining open Blockbuster Video store in the world. It's in Bend, Oregon, USA.

We had planned to go on holiday to Portland this year but the pandemic put paid to that. We would've called in at the store if we were there.

Instead we've been visiting the sites of old Blockbuster Video shops near to us here in the North West of England. It's been incredibly interesting to see how may remnants of the brand can still be found on the high streets and retail parks of the country.

Blockbuster QuikDrop box in Prescot
The QuikDrop box is still in place at the old store location in Prescot, Merseyside

A new documentary film about the store was released yesterday. You can find out more about it on The Last Blockbuster website.

Other video stores are available

Blockbuster certainly wasn't the first video rental shop brand, but it was at one time the market leader.

We actually found a video shop open in October. And it just so happened to be Video Shop Day. You can find B.V.C. - Bolton Video Centre in Little Lever, Bolton. It's brilliant to know that you can actually still rent VHS tapes there!

Save the Video Store

Family Video - one of Blockbuster's competitors back in the day - and a brand that has existed since 1978.

There is a Save the Video Store campaign and you can follow it and get involved on social media using the hashtag #SaveTheVideoStore. 

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