retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Go figure. Blockbuster Video, with its physical stores and iconic blue-and-yellow logo, isn't extinct. Yet.

There are, in fact, 10 of them still in operation, according to the Washington Post. "However, the largest cluster of Blockbuster stores are not on the mainland, but in Alaska, where dark, long winters and expensive WiFi have helped maintain a core group of loyal customers."

Seven of them are owned by licensee Alan Payne, who actually owns eight of the 10 - the other one, apparently a total outlier - is in Texas. "The most profitable Blockbuster store is in bitterly cold Fairbanks, where temperatures can reach 50 below zero," the Post writes.

Which I guess is what is required to buck the technological headwinds that made Blockbuster almost extinct: "A great deal of the business’s endurance has come from the core customer base in Alaska, primarily made up of older people," the Post writes. "Alaska ranks high in disposable income among the states, due to good-paying jobs, exceptionally low taxes and payments from reinvested oil savings. Moreover, Internet service is substantially more expensive than in most states, since most data packages are not unlimited."

The other thing that Payne believes has kept him in business is customer service - people actually like coming into his stores, where they can interact with store managers and staff. "“If you went in there on a Friday night," he says, "you’d be shocked at the number of people.”

Yes, I would.

But I'm sort of glad to know that there still are a couple of dinosaurs roaming the earth. And the story was an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: