“It just breaks your heart, you know?” Kevin Daymude, Blockbuster Alaska general manager Kevin Daymude told CNN affiliate KTVA.
Five years ago, there were 13 stores across The Last Frontier state. Three years after that, four of the 13 had closed. And since then, its store count has continued to slowly dwindle.
Alaska’s Wasilla, North Pole and Soldotna stores, along with another one in Anchorage, have all closed shop for good this year, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver wanted to help out, so in May, he sent the second Anchorage store some Russell Crowe movie memorabilia, including a leather jockstrap he wore in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man.” It brought a lot of national attention, but it wasn’t enough to keep the store afloat.
Rewind to the 1990s
Blockbuster was the king of movie and video game rentals in 1990s.
The once-supreme rental chain was a staple in American strip malls and shopping centers, encapsulating a labyrinth of at least 7,000 movies in each store. People would flock to the shop on Friday nights, hoping to get the last copy of their favorite film or the latest release before it got snagged by someone else.
At its peak in 2004, the company boasted its 9,000 locations. But as Netflix, Redbox and other video-on-demand services began to pop up, the business struggled to compete in an age that favored digital. After all, some argue, why go to all the trouble if you can just rent a movie from your couch?
Blockbuster gave in and declared bankruptcy in 2010, and its remaining 1,700 stores were bought by Dish Network in 2011.
After that, things kept going downhill. In 2013, the store said it would shut down 300 stores and cut 3,000 jobs.
The remaining Alaska stores will officially shut their doors for good on Sunday, but they will reopen on Monday for inventory sales that will run through July and August.