Late-night television host John Oliver did what he could, but even Russell Crowe’s jockstrap couldn’t save the Anchorage, Alaska, Blockbuster from closing its doors for good.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the final two Blockbuster stores in the state announced Thursday they’re calling it quits. The two locations, one in Anchorage and the other in Fairbanks, will stop renting movies on Monday, and then sell off any remaining inventory through August.
That leave one last Blockbuster location open in the United States, in Bend, Oregon.
After Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2011 and closed most of its corporate stores, Alaska had seemed to be the final frontier for the one-time video-rental giant. With affordable internet access scarce in the state, video rental stores, while not thriving, had at least been surviving.
The past few years, however, have seen most – and now all – of the remaining Alaska Blockbusters issue their last late fee. The Wasilla, North Pole and Soldotna locations closed earlier this year, along with a second Anchorage store.
"It's tough to tell the customers, it really is," Kevin Daymude, general manager at the DeBarr, Anchorage, location, told the newspaper. "They are like family. It's hard to say goodbye."
Alan Payne, owner of the Alaska stores through licensee Border Entertainment, explained that he and his team had determined sometime last year that renewing the remaining stores’ leases did not make financial sense. Profits at the Anchorage and Fairbanks locations had been declining at a unmanageable pace. The leases on the final two Blockbusters will terminate at the end of August.
"It's always kind of a kick in the pants every time we close a store,” explained Payne. “But it's been going on for so long that the shock has worn off, frankly. This is not going to come back. We can't string this out any longer without creating some financial problems."
In April, John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, sent the DeBarr, Anchorage store a significant amount of Russell Crowe memorabilia purchased from the actor's divorce auction, including the jockstrap from the 2005 boxing film Cinderella Man, in a last-ditch bid to keep the store open.
Although the store manager had, at the time, hoped the publicity stunt would lead to a spike in business, the curiosity proved not to be enough.
As for the wardrobe itself? "The memorabilia is probably going to go back to the owner,” Daymude explained, “which is fine, because I don't want a jockstrap in my house.”