End of an Era: Blockbuster begins final inventory sales

Inventory sales will continue at the two remaining Blockbusters in Anchorage and Fairbanks through August. (Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Tuesday was the beginning of the end for Blockbuster in Alaska. The two remaining stores in Fairbanks and Anchorage began their inventory sales, selling off DVDs, Blu Rays and video games. Even the racks they’re displayed on are up for grabs.

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At the store in Anchorage, a line snaked around the corners of the store. People waited for hours to get inside.

Finally, the door front doors open and customers flooded in. They grabbed blue plastic shopping baskets and make a beeline to the aisles of DVDs.

Blockbuster has been in Alaska for more than 25 years, (Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Within minutes, Hannah Lewis’s basket was filled to the brim.

“I have some new releases, a couple of TV shows, and an Xbox game for Legos,” Hannah explained.

Lewis is 23 years old. She’s lived in Alaska her entire life and has been coming to Blockbuster for as long as she can remember.

“When I was a kid we came here every day or every couple of days because we were kids. We loved movies,” Lewis explained. “And now, since I’m an adult, me and my boyfriend would come here every other week or so to rent some movies because sometimes you can’t find this stuff on TV.”

There are more and more ways to rent or stream movies, like on Netlfix, Amazon or Hulu.

But a lot of Blockbuster customers say streaming services don’t have all the options, especially when it comes to the classics.

Blockbuster’s general manager Kevin Daymude says everything is for sale, even the racks used to display DVDs

That’s what brings Diane to Blockbuster.

“We’re here quite often for the older movies and things like that,” Diane said.

Diane is a Blockbuster regular. She comes in a couple times and week. She came to the inventory sale to stock up on some of her favorite TV shows– The Walking Dead and Fear of the Walking Dead.

Diane says she’ll miss renting TV shows and movies, but really, she said, it’s the employees that have made Blockbuster special.

Kevin Daymude, the General Manager, has been working here for Blockbuster for decades.

Kevin Daymude is Blockbuster’s general manager of Alaska stores. (Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

“I’ve known these customers, a lot of these customers, since 1993,” Daymude said.

Daymude said breaking the news to his staff and then his customers — that was the hardest part.

“It kills me to sit there and tell them. When you see people crying, [I’m] like, ‘Don’t do that. Please don’t do that,'” Daymude said.

At the inventory sale in Anchorage, Daymude hugged customers, asking how their kids were and dodging questions about what his plans are for life after Blockbuster.

“It kind of hurts your heart because this is the end of an era,” Daymude said. “Blockbuster is gone in Alaska. That’s it.”

Inventory sales will continue at the two remaining Blockbusters in Anchorage and Fairbanks through August.

Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer.

Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF.

Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about.

Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.

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