Australia's Last Blockbuster is Finally Closing
That means there's only one Blockbuster store left in the world.
All images by Lance Delary-Simpson
We regret to inform you that the last Blockbuster in Australia, and the second-last on Earth, is officially shutting up shop. The store—located in the Perth suburb of Morley, Western Australia—will finally cease trading at the end of this month after 10 solid years in business. That leaves just one Blockbuster outlet in Bend, Oregon as the sole survivor of what was once a multinational franchise boasting more than 8000 stores worldwide.
Last month, Morley store manager Laura told VICE that she felt like her and the store owner Lyn Borszeky had “pulled a Steven Bradbury” by simply surviving for so long. Toowoomba Blockbuster, the second-last store in Australia, went under in December of last year—making Lyn’s store the country’s very last vestige of the movie rental empire. But now, with business dwindling, Lyn and Sarah's long, uphill battle is finally coming to an end.
“We’ve always known that there’s a time limit and it is going to happen at some stage,” Lyn told VICE over the phone today. “Even with all the new members we’ve had and all the publicity we’ve gotten from being the last Blockbuster in Australia, it hasn’t been enough to keep us going. The time has come unfortunately.”
Lyn says the store enjoyed a brief surge in business once they took out the title of the last store standing in Australia, with “about 25 new members a week joining for a while there, and 78 in one week.” But sadly it wasn’t enough.
“There’s just so many other platforms to watch movies and TV series, with streaming and Netflix and Stan,” Lyn explains. “It’s just the way that technology has changed.”
When I ask her how it feels to be calling it a day after all this time, she claims that she’s both sad and proud. Proud for sticking it so long out against seemingly insurmountable odds; sad for all the locals who won’t have anywhere to rent their DVDs now.
“I think we should be proud: of all the stores that there were in Australia, to be the last one,” she says. “But yes, very emotional. It’s also very sad for the customers: some of them are just so upset when you tell them. Some people haven’t even got the internet, so they’re really going to struggle.”
The curtains haven’t fallen on the Morley store just yet, though. Starting this Friday, Lyn and John are opening the doors to the public in an attempt to sell off as much as they can of the national treasure—and everything, she says, has got to go.
“All the DVDs and everything. Plus those Blockbuster signs, we’ve got three of those—one’s on a really high pole—so we thought someone might want to own one of them from the last ever Blockbuster in Australia and keep it as memorabilia,” she says. “There are other things as well like the popcorn stand, there’s shelving, even some uniforms that we’ve still got. Whatever we’ve got there we’ll have out for sale.”
Finally, I ask her about the world’s last store. How much longer can the Blockbuster of Bend, Oregon possibly hope to keep its lights on?
“I’ve got no idea,” she says. “I don’t know how they’re still going. I would say it wouldn’t be too long, because it sounds like from what I’ve read that they’re the same; they struggle. But I think they really just wanted to be the last ones in the world. But I think there’s a time span on that as well."
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.