The last blockbuster had an end of summer sleepover

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Several months ago, the last Blockbuster store on Earth temporarily rebranded – as an extremely nostalgic Airbnb.

A few lucky guests in Bend, Oregon, were able to take out the entire shop floor for a one-night reservation on 18, 19 or 20 September.

The guests essentially booked a night back to the ’90s, but without having to ask their parents to rent the latest horror movie – as they had keys to the whole floor.

It was a mere $4.00 (plus taxes), precisely one cent more than a standard DVD rental. Each stay came with unfettered access to the store’s iconic aisles, and a luxury living room set up by the counter, complete with a classic VCR.

The Airbnb could host up to four people and each guest was greeted with slumber party staples such as popcorn, Pepsi and pizza.

Once widespread across the US, the UK, and in Ireland under subsidiary brand Xtra-vision, Blockbuster’s slide into irrelevance became a case study for the changing face of entertainment. The rent-and-return model never looked likely to survive the advent of online streaming and, in 2010, the company filed for bankruptcy.

All corporate-owned American Blockbusters shut up shop between 2013 and 2014, but the Bend, Oregon, store soldiered on valiantly under the guidance of owner and manager Sandi Harding.

When Australia’s last Blockbuster closed its doors almost two years ago, the Bend branch became the world’s last.

The store in the Perth suburb of Morley, owned by Lyn and John Borszeky, ceased trading at the end of March 2019, leaving the store in Bend, Oregon, the sole survivor of the franchise.

Talking in the lead-up to closing her store, Ms Harding said: “Over the past few months, we’ve been missing the regular visits from friends, neighbours and tourists from around the world. So, we’re opening our store to three quarantine pods of Deschutes County guests for a socially distanced movie night, just like those of decades past!

“And remember,” she added, “the store is all yours for the night! So, let loose, blast the boombox and wear your favourite ’90s denim so that you feel right at home in another era.”

The Blockbuster stayed open after the final guest checked out, so customers could check out the living room space complete with a pull-out couch, bean bags and pillows for you to cozy up with ‘new releases’ from the ’90s.

The phone lines were also opened up to those in need of fresh movie suggestions. You could call the store to take advantage of their ‘Callgorithm’, where a real human would ask what movies you did and didn’t like and give you tailored recommendations.

Would you stay overnight at a store? What was the last movie you rented at a Blockbuster?

– With PA

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