Blockbuster to close last two stores in Alaska

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

The two remaining Blockbusters in Alaska are closing.

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Kevin Daymude, the store’s General Manager, made the announcement over Facebook on Thursday. “It is sad to say goodbye to our dedicated customers. We have thought of you as family for the past 28 years,” Daymude’s post said.

Blockbuster began opening 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.

That’s when Blockbuster came to Alaska and also when Daymude became a Blockbuster employee.

“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– I have to say goodbye to them. People don’t understand that,” Daymude said.

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 seven 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?’ There’s nothing else to say,” Daymude said.

The final day of regular business at the two remaining Blockbusters– one in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks– will be Monday, July 16. There will be an inventory sale on Tuesday, July 17 that will continue through July and August.

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Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer. Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF. Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about. Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.