Blockbuster to close last two stores in Alaska

Blockbuster on Debarr Road in Anchorage is one of the few remaining in the U.S. (Photo by Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Blockbuster on Debarr Road in Anchorage is one of the few remaining in the U.S. (Photo by Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

The two remaining Blockbusters in Alaska are closing.

The store’s general manager Kevin Daymude made the announcement Thursday on Facebook.

“It is sad to say goodbye to our dedicated customers,” Daymude’s post said. “We have thought of you as family for the past 28 years.”

Blockbuster opened movie rental stores in the U.S. in the mid-1980s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the franchise grew into a multibillion dollar business.

Blockbuster came to Alaska and Daymude became a Blockbuster employee during that time.

“These are businesses that I started from the beginning –  training the managers, putting the shelves up, bringing the product in, doing the computers – all that stuff,” Daymude said.

Daymude has seen the business boom and bust.

At its peak, there were 15 Blockbusters throughout Alaska, in Ketichikan and Kodiak, Kenai and Soldotna.

At one point there were three in the Fairbanks area and five in Anchorage.

“We were constantly looking at new locations to open up another Blockbuster,” Daymude said.

But in recent years, Daymude has watched them close, one by one.

“It breaks my heart seeing that happening and seeing good employees,” Daymude said. “I have to say goodbye to them. People don’t understand that.”

Kevin Daymude manages the remaining Blockbusters in Alaska. (Photo by Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Daymude remembers closing down the Blockbuster in Wasilla, which he said was a particularly hard decision to make. He was there when customers came into the store for the last time.

“This little girl, probably about 7 years old, was bawling big old crocodile tears,” Daymude said. He asked her what was wrong. “And she (said), ‘My mommy and I would come here every Friday night. We’d order a pizza, come over to Blockbuster, get our movies, and have a Friday night movie night with just her and I, and now we can’t do that.”

Daymude said he had to leave the building.

“It just breaks my heart. What do you say to a little girl like that? ‘I’m sorry?’” Daymude said. “There’s nothing else to say.”

The final day of regular business at the two remaining Blockbusters – one in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks – will be Monday, July 16.

An inventory sale begins Tuesday, July 17, will continue through July and August.

Alaska made comedy headlines in April when HBO host John Oliver offered to donate unique movie memorabilia to the Anchorage Blockbuster store.

“From the Gladiator chariot to this leather jock strap he wore in the film ‘Cinderella Man,’ which was expected to attract an absolutely ridiculous $500,” Oliver said on “Last Week Tonight.”

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