Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will Blockbuster Survive in 2009? Should it?

I read an article the other day that listed 15 companies that might not survive 2009. On the list, in addition to Claire, Rite Aid, Krispy Kreme, Landry's Restaurants, Sbarro's and Six Flags was Blockbuster.

Seeing Blockbuster on the list was not a's probably not a surprise to you.
I remember life Pre-Blockbuster when my family would go get videos from the local store in the grocery store strip center.

Of course, Blockbuster, despite having higher prices then the the grocery store rental area or the local video rental store suddenly made it so these stores closed and were boarded up, and turned into nail salons, Subways, and Curves.

But one of the great things about Blockbuster was despite the higher prices they had selection of both older titles and deep stacks of the brand new stuff as well. And because they were conveniently sprinkled everywhere it's were people went...often with no movie in mind, just to browse and "make it a blockbuster night"TM.

But of course, a lot has changed since the first blockbuster opened in Brooklyn, in an era where people took their broken VCR's to VCR repair shops. Now Blockbuster is headquartered in Dallas, Texas with thousands of stores in the US, as well as internationally.

Honestly, I'm not surprised that Blockbuster might be mentioned as a store to disappear. Honestly, it's hard to imagine a world with out Blockbuster, and there are simply not enough Chinese buffet style restaurants to fill out the empty store's we'd see.

But, I don't meet many Blockbuster Inc. enthusiast. People complain about their prices, they always have...but especially with other options like DVR technology, Cable services, $1 Red Box Rentals, Online viewing, Netflix, libraries, and illegal downloads and bootlegs...there are simply more affordable options.

But it's not only price. I think Blockbuster's past ten years have been spotted with confusing and changing rental policies, late fees, and special rental programs that come and go.

My wife has long thought Blockbuster would disappear because of all the money they wasted on receipt paper, often complaining about how much wasted money and trash they were creating with way too much receipt for a single rental.

But there's also a part of me that wonders if Blockbuster were to disappear would it only encourage a lack of options for those who are casual movie goers. Suddenly movie choices will increasingly be limited for many to what's available at the grocery store Red Box, or what's available on TV...clearly giving people only the chance to watch new releases and random old films like Beverly Hills Cop 2.

Not that many people rent the overpriced Blockbuster Favorites, and it's not even that the selection is amazing, but it's sad to think that there would be a void of video rental stores and options...but with out having a Netflix account or a good library system, many viewers will be limited.

I rarely frequent Blockbuster, but it's nice to know if I want something that's newer, and I want it now, that there's a respectable chance that they will have in stocks.

Do you think Blockbuster will survive 2009? Do you think that it should?


Anonymous said...

I vividly remember my parents taking my younger brother and I to the grand opening of the Blockbuster where we lived. We were so excited to each pick out a movie we wanted to see. Better than all the movies were the free key chains and stickers we got at the check out. I even remember the ridiclous number of receipts they handed my mother. Despite the extreme excessive amount of receipts they dish out to every customer, I would hate to see them really go under (because of their waste, hehe).

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...

My local BB closed a couple years back. I hadn't been to it for a couple years before that, so I don't miss it.

I was never that big of a fan of the chain. They didn't open in my area until the 90's. Before that, we had a lot of local chaines.

I remember how they killed off my favorite local video store by lowering rental prices (then raising them when the other store went out of business). But, for much of the 90's, they were the only game in town.

Then came Netflix and I didn't have to rent from BB anymore.

Grete said...

That's crazy you mention the local one closing and a Curves opening in its place - that's EXACTLY what happened to the one nearest to my home growing up!! I wouldn't mind if Blockbuster closed - I like the local places, which are often cheaper rentals anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

The company will survive. It will eventually declare chapter 11 and screw the shareholders and creditors and come out smaller than before but stronger and more nimble.

Anonymous said...

hmmm... last I checked BB was owned by mega-mediacorp Viacom, so I doubt that they'll go fully out of business. my guess is they'll revamp, after calling bankruptcy. i would say that their online function would still function, but really, the only advantage they have over Netflix (b/c seriously, have you tried searching the site? you kind of have to know what you're looking for. they're not at all good at suggesting related movies) is the ability to drop off the movies at the local BB to get the next one in queue & take home a 'favorites' that day.

the blockbusters by our place is booming, but i'd like to see more foot-traffic go in to the independents.

Russah said...

I recently downloaded Netflix to my Xbox 360...Oh my goodness.

There is no waiting, in fact you never have to leave your house. Go online, add an "instant queue", and in seconds its on your machine in amazing streaming quality. Although the selection may not be as vast as a Blockbuster store, it is certainly not small, and I suspect that it is only a matter of time before the online queues become the primary mode of movie rentals. You can use this on so many more devices than an Xbox, like the ever more popular Blu-ray player, other gaming systems, computers, etc., so as people upgrade technology, this will be a viable option for nearly everyone.

That said, I do believe that the physical Blockbusters will soon be obselete. There is too much convenience in instant movies. They may grow in the online aspect, but I think the physical Blockbusters stand little chance.

RC said...

for a blog primarily about movies, i'm very surprised that not one commenter has discussed the virtue of netflix.

it sounds like from the comments everyone HAS dropped money into the blockbuster cash register, but that NO ONE has recently.

Aimee said...

This is an interesting post... I personally am just glad to see that Blockbuster has finally been put in check due to rising competition. I've always been a movie renter so I do still go there from time to time because of the selection and also for TV shows on DVD. My parents have become avid Netflix people and seem to now resent Blockbuster after years of being loyal customers. I think what aggravated everyone the most is how they gouged people on late fees. They were really pretty ridiculous.

Lorna said...

When I was working and had children around the house, and was doing volunteer work, and going to a gym, we used to rent movies---usually from BB.

I don't know what's happened to my life, but I seldom see the films I want to go to, and I buy DVDs that get dusty before the cellophane comes off. Bankruptcy of the company is sort of meaningless to me.

elgringo said...

1. DVR technology
2. Cable services
3. $1 Red Box Rentals
4. Online viewing
5. Netflix
6. Libraries
7. Illegal downloads and bootlegs

Look, a list of seven movie-viewing options more attractive than heading down to Blockbuster. If they shut down, I'll be a little sad because of the 4-for-20 deals.

I'd like to add:
8. Supporting my local independent video store. Gotta show love for them.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance. They once sent me a bill for a late movie I hadn't even rented and threatened to sue me for the ten bucks if I didn't pay up (which I didn't). But seriously, who will really miss them. If for some odd reason someone can't come up with $5 a month for the cheapest Netflix plan they probably don't care to watch anything other than the latest releases anyway. Plus every town will still have at least one local video store. And for the record I think Netflix is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Um Naief said...

i really enjoy going to blockbuster when i'm in the states. i love all the films they have, even find myself browsing the movies being sold (even the used ones). just love going there and renting movies... but i'm not a big theatre person, so it's good for me.

i hope they survive. i'd be a sad thing if the next time i get back to the states, there's no good place to rent movies.

they recently opened a krispy kreme in bahrain. intersting that they may go out of business. wonder if that would affect the store here?!

Anonymous said...

Whether you hate or love blockbuster, it sucks for all the people who work for them, in the state this country is in, every person counts on a job, and would suck for all the people to be out on the street.

Anonymous said...

i think it's sad to read anyone say they want a place to close.

Anonymous said...

Blockbuster online has gotten to be a JOKE. Recently they changed their plans without letting people know. I have had Will and Grace [TV Series] season 2 in my queue for the last 9 months and it's still listed as LONG WAIT. After contacting them, I was assured I would get it within a month.......well, that was 6 months ago now. I'm sorry for people that will lose jobs because of it, but Blockbuster service, especially the online service, SUCKS!

Anonymous said...

I currently own a small 1500 square foot video and game store and this is the first year we are losing money...Since we took over 3 1/2 years ago (we bought the 6000 sq ft building to open a tanning salon and the video store was part of the package for the building)... we always knew that the store would eventually lose money(with all the competition both from two other locals and the big ones) We will wait before pulling the plug after May 11,2009 and see what shakes out. About late fee...we charge $2.42 for one day and 3.42 for two days rental. If we do not charge late fees, we will never know when the DVD/Games will be back if at all and that's not fair for the next customer, or for me...It's call lost opportunity of revenue...someone has to pay for that. Being a small store I can not go out a buy 35 DVD of one time for one movie(I tried that with Pirates of the C and lost my shirt many of my customer went to Walmart and bought it. And that's another thing I pay almost what Walmart is charging and there are other video stores who pay more because of there low volume. This is not a good business to be in. One thing that is being lost is the human connection, the store was a meeting place for our town and with that said, it is sad that it has gone away (actually it has moved over to the tanning salon side of the store...which is all one store with two different sides.) And for the record "I HATE LATE FEES, TOO" BUT A NECESSARY EVIL!

Anonymous said...

Blockbuster should not survive because for years it has deceived and inconvenienced many people and is now Blockbuster like a rash that just won't go away.

Anonymous said...

Let me rephrase that:

Blockbuster should not survive because for years it has deceived and inconvenienced many people and is now like a rash that just won't go away.

The company has made and continues to make many poor business decisions and is now unable to keep up in today's world. I have no idea why it was granted refinancing of a large portion of accumulated debt when auditors expressed substantial doubt about Blockbuster's ability to continue as a going concern.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait till ALL blockbusters close forever! They have become a lowclass outdated movie outlet. The customer service is aweful. Thank you blockbuster for leading me to netflix & redbox to rent my movies. I will never go back to your stores!

Anonymous said...

Could all you people please post your work places so I could boycott your company as well. I have worked for Blockbuster for numerours years and they have put food on my table every night as well put my kids through scholarship programs. It's customers like you who have nothing better to do than bitch which destroys companies. I mostly like those of you who claim to use redbox and netflix but still come come to our stores and drop your movies from those companies in our boxes. Thanks for your support. No wonder why the economy is in the crapper.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for Blockbuster for 6 years. I think that there is something to be said for a company that promotes from the inside and recognizes talent. They provide health care and tuition reimbursment for employees, not to mention providing a paycheck every other week. For the people who say that this is a Corporation I say...look at the face of the next person who works there. They need this. It's not about a name, its about the people. I think the decline in the economy is people constantly finding the cheapest fix. The less you pay...the less you get.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for blockbuster in the past, I think it is a dying breed at this point because it did not change fast enough with the times. It was great for its time which was the 90's. Companies like netflix saw what was coming in the future with online streaming and jumped on the technology to make it possible to watch on demand movies for a reasonable price. I now have the three blu rays at a time as well as unlimited online movies streaming straight to my TV package for a little over $20.00. In order to survive blockbuster must look elsewhere for innovative ideas and one up netflix, red box and other cheaper entertainment venues. It did not hurt when walmart gave its customer list to netflix a few years back and again when Xbox and some of the blu ray manufacturers signed up with netflix with in the last two years.

Anonymous said...

The Blockbuster in my town is closing. there are no other video stores around for miles. Now i would have to drive over 1-2 towns to go there. it is really a shame.
a good store with good people.

Anonymous said...

I worked for blockbuster almost three years and when they started going under they told me they could not afford my full time hours anymore I found a new job at a bank and no longer work there. The company treats employees and customers the same way and that way is like crap...however 960 stores are closing an average of 8 people per store rely on that income to support themselves and there family that is a total of about 7000 + people losing there this economy that is terrible and those of you hoping the store closes because you want the sales or have your personal reasons for hating them think of those 7000+ people who are losing there jobs you have just wished horrible things upon them

Anonymous said...

I also worked for Blockbuster until recently. I worked in the Chicagoland regional store, with the district manager and regional manager in the back office behind the store. I saw these people every day. Terrible, corrupt corporation.
Anyone who works there and says differently obviously is in complete denial or at least has never MET their district manager. Firings for no reason, no respect for customers. And you'd better believe your current district manager doesn't give a crap about you and will fire you for no reason for a higher bonus. CUSTOMERS, YOU ARE ONLY A NUMBER TO THIS CORPORATION.

Current employees who don't believe me, it was store 17035, 80th and cicero.

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like BB did survive 2009, even with store closings. What many people don't know is a majority of the stores that closed were stores right across the street from other stores. Way back when, both stores were needed. Now there is only a need for one. In my town where I work (pretty small town), we still have two BBs, one of which almost closed, but probably will for sure in 2010.

My little rant about late fees: Yes, no late fees were promoted. No, that does not mean you can keep the movies forever. I had a customer, in the same transaction, complain for over 2 minutes about a movie being out of stock, I pull up his account and see he owes $2.50 for two movies over thirty days late each and then complains about the late fee. So he rents a brand new DVD, keep it for 30 days allowing nobody else the chance to rent it, and allowing us to generate no more revenue off it, and complains it cost him an extra $2.50. I have people all the time walk out the door after I tell them their due dates and they will say "but no late fees right?". Well, ya, if you want to own the movie. Oh you paid $2.99 to rent it? Ya, we'd like it back within the next month.

Anonymous said...

From an owner of a small video store
only 12,000 titles and 2000 games...with the mine set of people is almost impossible to make the way there was another video store the closed, we are down to, FoodCity, RedBox and BlockBusters...good luck guys....

Anonymous said...

I should learn to spell.....s/b GLAD

Anonymous said...

Blockbuster will be out of business by the end of 2010. The companies failure was giving up to much marketshare to netflix, and failing to see the potential of online rentals.
The problem with go head to head with netflix is that their customers are very loyal.
Though Blockbuster online is a more solid option; ie: taking your onlines into a store and exchanging them for another instead of waiting for the mail, netflix has succeeded in turning anything Blockbuster does into "the old thing" and the psychology of the consumer is the "keep up with the neighbor".

I knew it was over for Blockbuster about a year ago when the TV show The Office, had an episode where one character explained to another how a netflix que works.

It's pop culture now, and blockbuster is antique