Be kind, rewind.
Advertisement
Exterior of the last remaining Blockbuster Video - rental store in the United States of America
Credit: Melissa Kopka/Getty Images

The floor is a patterned gray and the walls are mottled yellow. With the smells of popcorn and plastic in the air and a 90s rom-com is playing on TV screens, the scene — of the one remaining Blockbuster — is not just a nostalgic fantasy, it's a reality in Oregon.

Yes, the world's last Blockbuster is still operating in the town of Bend, about 160 miles south of Portland.

In the early 2000s, the Blockbuster empire was thriving, with more than 9,000 locations. By the time the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010, there were only about 1,700 stores. More than a decade later, only one location remains.

The experience in Bend is exactly like you remember: you wander the aisles with films categorized by genre, and select your movie. When you head to the cash register — where, of course, there's merchandise and treats waiting for you — the cashier removes the security tag and adds the movie to your account (using an IBM floppy disk computer from the 80s.) When you're finished, you head back to the shop and drop the DVD in the drop box before doing the whole thing again.

This photo taken on July 26, 2020 shows the interior of the last remaining Blockbuster store, in Bend, Oregon.
Credit: ANDREW MARSZAL/AFP via Getty Images

As DVD players are becoming more scarce, this last Blockbuster has a different business model than the stores of 20 years ago. The shop now relies mostly on merchandise sales and tourism to keep it afloat. But it is still a very functional Blockbuster and you don't need to be a local to partake.

Anyone can set up a Blockbuster account for free, if you have a valid ID on hand. Your membership will even become a souvenir of its own, with cards made by hand by Blockbuster staff.

Still, if you're only passing through, you can pick up merchandise in Blockbuster's iconic blue and yellow. Hoodies, shirts and socks are available — some of which are emblazoned with the famous "Be kind, rewind" motto.

If you can't remember to rewind your movies, at least you'll remember that time you rewound time.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.