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Soon there will be only one Blockbuster left in US

New York

THE Blockbuster video store in Bend, Oregon, stands steely and determined, defending itself against the expanding forces of digital streaming services such as Netflix and HBO, whose charm is that customers need not get up from the couch.

Soon the store, about 241km south-east of Portland, will be the final survivor of the once-popular chain after two Blockbuster stores in Alaska close.

In Alaska, difficulty getting Wi-Fi or broadcast reception had helped keep the brick-and-mortar shops there afloat. But the managers of the stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks announced in a Facebook post on Thursday that they would close and planned to sell their inventories.

Blockbuster closed its last few hundred corporate-owned stores in 2013 but privately owned stores that license the Blockbuster brand, like the one in Oregon, have remained. Sandi Harding, general manager of the Oregon store, who has worked for Blockbuster since 2004, said there are no plans to shut the store any time soon. "We still have that core group of customers that know we're local, are very loyal and come in every week," she said. "Everyone's tired of sitting at home on their phones and their laptops and not having any personal interactions."

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The Blockbuster in Bend, which has DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, has maintained a small-town approach in its 18 years in business. Ms Harding said that Tuesday mornings she heads to Walmart or Target to buy the newest movie titles. She goes to Costco to buy candy she sells in the store to reduce the cost of buying it from vendors.

More than a decade ago, Blockbuster had more than 9,000 stores across the United States. Dish Network acquired Blockbuster through a bankruptcy auction in 2011, after the retailer had already been crushed by digital video distributors like Netflix. A Dish spokesman said there are still licensed Blockbuster stores outside the United States, in countries like Australia, Brazil and Norway.

Alan Payne, the owner of the Alaska stores, said that when he spoke with the television show's producer this year, he warned that he would likely be closing the Anchorage store soon.

In Fairbanks, the Blockbuster store was a neighbourhood staple for many people who could not afford Internet or cable, Kelli Vey, the store's manager, said on Saturday. NYTIMES

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