How PR Has Kept The Last Blockbuster in Business

Remember Blockbuster? In 2009, streaming services like Netflix nailed the former movie giant’s casket shut, forcing them to file for bankruptcy. As streaming services continue to grow in popularity, worldwide subscribers were reported in 2018 to have climbed to 130 million, further proving that streaming is the way of the future. So, how has one last Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon managed to stay in business as the lone survivor of the chain?

The answer is simple – good PR.

With more than 4,000 active account holders and growing, the Bend store has no fears of closing in sight. Since the news spread of the Oregon store being the last in the world after it’s counterpart in Australia closed in March, the store has quickly become a widely visited tourist attraction that draws up nostalgia for those who frequented the store in years past.

Capitalizing on earned media

Sandi Harding, the store’s general manager, was giddy with excitement when news of the last remaining Australian location closed its doors. Rather than seeing this as a bad omen for her store, she saw it as an opportunity for earned media.

News outlets swarmed at the chance to cover the last Blockbuster in the world, and two filmmakers raised nearly $40,000 on Kickstarter to fund a documentary about the location and history. The store has also secured strategic partnerships like it’s own ‘Last Blockbuster‘ craft beer developed by 10 Barrel Brewing and served at a party hosted at the store.

Finding the right audience

Located in a town that reveres filmmaking, this Blockbuster is brilliantly placed. While small, Bend is home to three movie theaters and hosts an independent film festival each year. According to Harding, about a quarter of the stores’ customers are regulars who visit the store for movies that aren’t on Netflix like new releases.

Utilizing social media

While Bend is a popular vacation spot with plentiful outdoor activities and breweries, it’s visitors are often taken with the Blockbuster that is still in operation. The store’s Facebook Page is regularly flooded with guests posting thousands of photos of the storefront, checking in and tagging the store. It’s because of the widespread social media promotion that news of the store’s existence continues to grow, and more people want to see it for themselves.

Lasts are nearly always nostalgic, and as technology becomes increasingly prominent in society, mementos of culture’s past become more highly coveted. Nostalgia has become a sort of trend of its own today as we’ve seen several of our favorite 90’s sitcoms resurrected like Fuller House and Girl Meets World, and suddenly Star Wars is all the rage again. Teenagers are wearing scrunchies and low rise jeans are begging to make a comeback. This last Blockbuster has capitalized on that growing trend and made it into a successful business.