Not to age myself here, but as a child and pre-teen, hurried trips to the local Blockbuster were a family ordeal and remembering to return the rentals on time was a guaranteed miss. What are now lazy walks to the couch for Netflix and chill were once planned drives or walks to get VHS tapes or DVDs and convince dad to buy microwavable popcorn and chocolates. That all came to an end in 2010 when the chain, slowly but surely, started to close hundreds of locations across the United States. As of 2014, there is only one Blockbuster left.
On Tuesday, the movie and video game rental stores announced that the Bend, Oregon location will be opening their doors to Airbnb for a few lucky guests to enjoy 90s-themed sleepovers.
“Let loose, blast the boombox and wear your favorite ‘90s denim so that you feel right at home in another era,” they wrote.
The host for the night is long-time manager Sandi Harding. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a test of our community unlike any other, so we decided to list this stay to keep this tradition alive during these uncertain times… When we meet, I just ask that you wear a mask (I will be too) and we keep 6 feet of social distance,” she wrote.
Blockbuster’s official Twitter company account had been dormant since 2014 but made a comeback on Aug. 11 to rile up the masses and celebrate the good news. Within minutes, they got hundreds of thousands of engagements and, in true wise celebrity fashion, quickly exited right after an eight-hour visit.
We haven’t gotten word yet on whether this will be an ongoing idea. At the moment, the sleepovers are set to be available for three days in September. You can try to snag a spot at Airbnb on Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. PT. The best, perhaps wildest part, is that the stay is $4 a night—a penny more than the price of a DVD rental. For now, here are three reasons why this is the perfect time for the beloved chain to get the support it needs to make a comeback:
Teens relish the bygones
And it’s not just teens, really. Folks of all ages opt for print books, CDs, or vinyl records when possible. There’s something special about art you can touch. That mindset and appreciation for the classic and original way of doing this are to Blockbuster’s benefit. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that this is an Instagram-ready experience. We need not always let bygones by bygones.
Home is the new movie theatre
Even as theatres and shops slowly re-open, movie theaters feel like a thing of the past. As the world came to a halt to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, movie theaters took a hit, and TV streaming services like Netflix and Hulu saw a surge (and then decline) in viewership. As people continue to take preventative measures while enjoying relaxed stay-at-home orders, Blockbuster locales, with new and old options perhaps otherwise not found on the aforementioned sites, provides the best of both worlds—you can have your cake and eat it too. You can interact with fellow movie lovers (from a distance) while grabbing a classic, and getting movie snacks for the ultimate at-home experience.
Same reasons we love our local bookstore/library
Although we can, and sometimes do, purchase books online—many people opt for the physical trip to the library or small, local bookstore instead. Folks who work at either are well-versed, and passionate, about books. In my experience, a single question posed to a librarian can lead to a 30-minute conversation and a list of recommendations. The same was/is the case with a physical film collection like that at Blockbuster. A trip to the store can mean you’ll meet someone like Harding, who calls the team a family. “I’ve seen the highs and lows of this business,” she wrote on the Airbnb listing, “but nothing can replace going to the store with loved ones to browse the shelves and find a movie that suits whatever mood you’re in.”