The last six months may have been total chaos on a global scale, but it’s also been a great time for nostalgic memories of family gatherings full of hugs and high fives and Saturday afternoon movie matinees. Many people of a certain age also remember the unique experience of Blockbuster video stores: the joy of finding the movie you just had to see waiting for you on the shelf, and the pain of learning that essential date night rom-com was not. It wasn’t just a trip to the store, it was a social experience where strangers still talked to each other.
Now, a select few will get to relive the past at least for one night in the last Blockbuster in the world, VHS tapes and all.
And Then There Was One
Everything good must come to an end, and when DVDs and streaming services hit the market, Blockbuster was mortally wounded. Slowly the iconic rental company died, along with all its independent competitors. But one store in Bend, Oregon never succumbed. To celebrate its 20th year still standing, this store is offering $4-a-night overnight stays to AirBNB guests on September 18th, 19th, and 20th.
Creating the Perfect Ambiance
Sandi Harding, current manager of the store and an employee of Bend Blockbuster for 16 years, says that “with everybody being stuck at home and re-experiencing family time together, we thought it would be fun to enjoy some family time in a throwback 90s environment.”
The Airbnb experience includes bean bag chairs, a pull-out couch, and free-for-all access to the store’s extensive film assortment. Moreover, there will be a complete living room setup within the store, with similarly 90s-tinged pieces, a gigantic era-appropriate (fat) television, and a top-notch VCR. The lucky winners will enjoy pizza, popcorn, Gobstoppers, Nerds, Raisinets, and Laffy Taffy. While the store has a bathroom, it doesn’t have a shower, which is a minor concern when you’re in a throwback paradise. As Harding pointed out, the Bend Blockbuster is depicted as “an ode to movie magic, simpler times, and the sense of community that could once be found in Blockbuster locations around the world.”
Rules and Restrictions
Unfortunately, not everyone can book a sleepover at the Bend Blockbuster, which started accepting reservations on August 17th. The rules stipulate that you must be a resident of Deschutes County, Oregon and that all guests must come from the same household. Apparently alcohol is allowed, but parties, friends, drugs, smoking, and pets are all prohibited, so it’s not exactly like being at home.
Of course, the store will be cleaned and prepared in accordance with CDC guidelines and consistent with Airbnb’s advanced cleaning procedures. The Bend Blockbuster will also be doing curbside pickup of guests on the date of their visits, which are all scheduled well after the store has closed for regular business. One final rule Harding pointed out is, “Be kind, rewind!”
Finally, Harding clarified how the world’s last operating Blockbuster ended up being an Airbnb listing. “It’s our 20th year as a Blockbuster,” she said. “We were hoping to celebrate that this year, but with COVID throwing a wrench into everybody’s plans, we were really excited to be able to pull this off.”