A Fading Era

With Blockbuster closing stores, is movie renting as we knew it dying out?

by Meghan Dellinger

Sophomore Lindsay Slater said she hardly ever goes to a physical location to rent movies anymore.

“[It’s] not very often, only when I’m ever at home during the summer or on a break,” Slater said.

She’s not alone. According to a voluntary survey of 100 Whitworth students, about 69 percent of students use online sources such as Netflix or Hulu Plus to watch movies and TV shows rather than going to a movie rental store.

Rental stores are already difficult to locate in Spokane and as of April 7, the Blockbuster video store at 12208 N. Division St. will be closed for good. It’s one of the last few video rental stores still open in Spokane, and with its closing, it may signal the end of an era.

Liz Jackson, the Blockbuster store’s manager, said she is disappointed Blockbuster is closing.

“I’ve been with this company a very long time,” Jackson said. “I’m sad there isn’t really a place where you can go in, hold the movies physically, and ask people working there what they think [about a movie]. It seems like society is stepping away from that avenue.”

Out of the 78 percent of Whitworth students who said they had been to a Blockbuster before, about 33 percent said they would go there once every few months. About 30 percent said they went around once a year.

Junior Nate Swearingen said he uses online movie or TV sources about three or four times a weeks, while he doesn’t rent movies at all anymore.

“It’s progressing fast, everything is going digital,” Swearingen said. “I suppose with new movies that I really want to see I’ll go to Redbox. Otherwise, I just use my friends’ accounts.”

Jackson said that Blockbuster, which is owned by Dish, is closing many of its stores simply because its leases are up, although several stores are closing because they didn’t make enough money. There will still be about 500 Blockbuster stores left in the United States, mostly in bigger cities.

“[The industry] started with more mom-and-pop businesses, then it was owned by corporations. I feel like mom-and-pop shops will start popping up again,” Jackson said. “I think [it will be] an individual business rather than a corporate business.”

Slater isn’t worried about the movie rental industry changing too dramatically just yet.

“It’s a big industry, it takes a long time to change,” she said. “They might have more companies [added] to Netflix if they see it’s not going away [but] I don’t predict any significant change in the next five to 10 years.”

And although Slater said she was sad to hear the Blockbuster store is closing, she believes movie renting processes will not change much either.

“It’s always disheartening when stores like Blockbuster close down,” she said. “But there’s always access to free DVDs through the library and other sources. People have access to all the same media, so I’m not really worried about it.”

The Blockbuster store near Wandermere has put nearly everything on sale from now until they close, and prices change every Monday.

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu

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