It's taken everyone until 2020, but, at last, we've reached the apotheosis of 2000-and-lateness as a society. Like a prehistoric insect caught in amber, there's one Blockbuster store left in Oregon. Because the universe has a weird sense of humor, the store's listing on Airbnb is helping to keep it alive.
This final twist in the years-long death spiral of the once state-of-the-art rental company is so deliciously ironic that it's difficult to site a historical parallel. It's like if the Winchester gun company started a zoo to display the last Western buffalo. First, the digital revolution relegated Blockbuster to the supermarket clearance bin of history. Now, in kind of a morbid way, Airbnb, a member of the internet avant-garde, is turning this Blockbuster into a trophy on display, like a taxidermy severed head above a hunter's fireplace.
The proprietors of the last Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon—like that last unit of Japanese imperial infantry fighting a quixotic guerilla war in the Philippines 20 years after WWII because they never received the surrender order—have kept their franchise going, despite the near-complete market penetration of online streaming services. Thanks to their tireless efforts and to a core following of movie hardware diehards performing a rearguard action, their store's still kicking.
They've also converted part of the old store into a kind of Potemkin living room, complete with pullout couch and (spookiest of all) a VHS and DVD player (ask your grandparents what that is). Beginning today, exclusively residents of Deschutes County, Oregon, can stay a night in this veritable anachronism for just $4.
If you're from Deschutes Country, the opportunity sounds like an unparalleled chance to relive the 90s in style. The only the thing that could make a Blockbuster sleepover more 90s/early aughts is if you pocketed your pager, donned a pair of Doc Martens, and then laughed so hard you fell off your dinosaur.