BY KELBY CLARK
On Wednesday, Nov. 6, DISH Network announced its plan to close the remaining 300 Blockbuster retail stores and cancel the company’s DVD-by-mail service.
DISH Network purchased the bankrupt Blockbuster LLC in 2011 for $234 million, but after two years of low profits and sharp declines in their customer base, DISH has decided to shut the chain down by early January 2
Within the past decade, places across the United States have seen the once frequented video stores shut down and replaced with other retail outlets, like the CVS pharmacy on Claremont Avenue in Montclair, N.J. or Title Boxing Club on state Route 46 in Parsippany, N.J.
Many County College of Morris students, like 22-year-old Diego Arenas, a psychology major, have experienced this change firsthand in their hometowns. Arenas admitted that he was a little nostalgic about the shutdowns, and he believes that the loss of Blockbuster is a loss of an era.
“I used to love Blockbuster, it used to be one of my favorite places as a kid,” Arenas said. “I remembered roaming the aisles finding all sorts of movies and games.”
The first Blockbuster retail store opened in 1985 in Dallas and once was the leader in video rentals, dominating the market. At the company’s height, Blockbuster had an extensive retail presence with approximately 9,000 stores worldwide.
“The company’s reputation is pretty much nonexistent [now] … thanks to Netflix and other competitors like Amazon, but go back a decade and it used to be one of the best places to go to during a weekend night,” Arenas said. “It almost felt like a staple of the 21st century.”
For many years, no other company in the industry could compete with Blockbuster. However, from the time that Netflix went public in 2002, Blockbuster’s control of the industry was challenged. Netflix redefined the way people watched movies with a new, more convenient way of renting DVDs and the introduction of streaming content over the Internet.
Clarissa Danif, a mechanical engineering major at CCM, is an avid Netflix user.
“Things change,” Danif said. “I used to go to Blockbuster like 10 years ago … Blockbuster had its time. I feel that losing something important when it’s closing is sad, but a sign of progress.”
The rising popularity of Netflix and other online movie rental companies such as Redbox that provide their subscribers with online rentals, streamable movies and television programs now control the majority of Blockbuster’s former market. These fast-growing companies will reap even more benefits when the stores close next year.
Redbox is predicted to rake in between $200 million and $300 million in additional revenue with the closing of Blockbuster.
Although this is exciting news for Redbox, Blockbuster and its employees are suffering as more than 2,700 people are set to lose their job once the final stores close next year, according to Yahoo News.
With a global presence that spanned nearly three decades, the closing of Blockbuster stores across the country marks the end of an era for many generations.
The giant bright blue and yellow signs that once called for romantic date nights and family get-togethers over a bowl of freshly popped Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn will soon be taken down.
However, Blockbuster left behind a long-lasting legacy and the memories it created will never be removed from people’s hearts, explained Greg Brozuski, a business administration major at CCM.
“Blockbuster is, and now was, the example of the old movie night,” he said. “[A Blockbuster retail store] used to be open near my house and the company was a great company for movie rentals; but, when it came to the digital age and video streaming … they lacked in knowing what their customer base wanted.”
Whether consumers are saddened by the loss of Blockbuster or glad to be moving away from the outdated practice of video renting, those $20 outstanding late fees will soon just be painful childhood memories.