Business
5:25 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

As Blockbuster Stores Prepare The Shutters, Video Loyalty Runs Deep

The last of the Blockbuster stores will close in the next few weeks. The move was announced by Dish Network, which bought what remained of the video chain out of bankruptcy two years ago.

Blockbuster was based in Dallas during its glory years. And despite the rise of Netflix, DVRs and video streaming, for a few folks at the 15 remaining North Texas stores, video loyalty dies hard.

The KERA radio story.

Outside a Blockbuster store, Arlington resident Amanda Chappell lifts her two kids out of car seats, and walks them inside. Half an hour later... "We're watching these, Mommy,” her 4-year-old says. "I don't know the words." Mom helps out: "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Super Mario."

Chappell didn’t learn this store was closing until she hit the checkout line.

"I'm sad," she says. "We love coming in and having the kids pick out a movie. Don't do it!"

A Blockbuster visit, especially on Fridays, was a family tradition.

"I remember coming, even as a teenager too, you know? Coming in, and renting our scary movies with our friends and, that was always fun. We'd spend hours trying to pick out a movie."

Her older son tugs at her arm, saying, “Mommy, I'm going to be sad ’cuz it's closing." 

William White has more than 500 movies at his Arlington home. His favorite? Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson and some old Kung Fu movies.

"This place will  be missed, for sure,” he says. “I come down here twice a week, really, I probably watch too many movies.”

In the 1980s, White and his family couldn’t what for what was then the cutting edge of technology: the VCR.  

"They cost 700 bucks," he says. "And we went ahead and bought one, and now you could probably, you can't give them away."

Arlington resident Jemiah Thompkins remembers those days, too. Standing next to his friend, Abigail Yogendra, he says that back then, movies used to take a few months to get into Blockbuster stores.

"Nothing's going to replace Blockbuster, though,” he says. “I like just being able to go to the store, instead of having to try and search online."

Yogendra says she'll miss the store, too: "Making that drive, like, it's like fun, like trying to find a movie together, the games, everything."

In Grand Prairie, a T-Mobile shop has replaced what used to be the neighborhood Blockbuster. One of the managers inside, Adrian Cortez, says having a Blockbuster card was special:

"It was an exclusive thing. If you didn't have a Blockbuster card in your wallet, you weren't in the ‘in’ crowd. That's kinda how I remember it."

Longtime Grand Prairie resident Anna Peters says she loved her Blockbuster, especially the customer service. 

"They came to the door half the time to meet you and greet you, and they were real good about showing you exactly where to go find different things that you came in to look for like movies, or music, they were good."

For customers wishing to hold on to those Blockbuster memories, stores will start holding closeout sales as soon as next week.