It had been years since Natasha Dodson was inside a Blockbuster store, but the thrill of hunting for a movie to rent was no less exciting.

Dodson, a new Bend resident, saw the blue and yellow Blockbuster sign at NE Revere Avenue on Friday and decided that bringing home videos would be a great treat for her visiting relatives.

“We wanted a family movie night,” Dodson said while holding the DVD “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.”

“I thought all the Blockbusters were gone.”

Going to Blockbuster has become more like embracing a dinosaur. Just three months ago, there were three Blockbuster locations in Oregon — Sandy, Redmond and Bend.

Now, there’s one left in the entire contiguous 48 states — and it’s in Bend.

There are five stores in Alaska, but soon, that number will whittle down to four because the North Pole location is closing in mid-April, a store clerk in Alaska said.

Closing the Redmond location was not an easy decision, but business had slowed considerably, said Sandi Harding,store manager.

“We have some amazing loyal customers at both the Bend and Redmond stores,” Harding said. “We tried to keep both stores open. We’re the lone survivor.

“We see the importance of being here. It was a tough decision to close the Redmond store. We’re definitely relevant.”

In its heyday, Blockbuster had more than 9,000 Blockbuster locations beckoning movie watchers with its bold butter yellow and vivid blue decor and khaki-clad clerks renting out movies. In 2011, Blockbuster became part of DISH, and just three years later, there were 300 remaining U.S.-based retail stores under the Blockbuster banner.

But streaming services blew a hole through the business model by making it easy to beam movies and TV shows into people’s computers and TVs.

Laura Cain is happy that the Blockbuster location in Bend is thriving. It’s a weekly event to go to the store for her family. Everyone gets to pick out a movie under a plan where she pays a $30 monthly fee that allows them to have as many two-at-a-time video rentals as they can watch.

“We get more movies for our money,” Cain said. “We’ve been going to the Blockbuster for about 12 years now. We enjoy it.

“It’s a tradition.”

It’s also nostalgia, Harding said. She even gets requests from people who want her to print out a Blockbuster card and mail it to them.

The Bend store is able to remain open because Bend business owner Ken Tisher also owns the portion of the building where the store is, Harding said.

Renting movies is an inexpensive option for families seeking home entertainment of the low-tech variety. Sharon Schoettler, of Bend, goes to the NE Revere Avenue Blockbuster frequently. She seeks out the older movie titles and comes regularly every other week, she said. Not a fan of Internet streaming, browsing through the titles suits Schoettler.

“I think it’s really neat that we still have one,” the 70-year-old Schoettler said. “I love the selection. They have a little bit of everything.

“I’m old-fashioned. I enjoy coming here.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

19828262