Alaska was a refuge for Blockbuster. As the last two close, readers share their memories.

Blockbuster's video rental business in Alaska has come to an end.

The last two stores standing — one in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks — are in the process of selling off inventory through July and August, before they shut their doors for good. A Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon, will be the only one left in the U.S.

Over the last few years, Blockbusters have closed one by one in Alaska, where they outlasted most of the rest of the country. Every time a closure happens, Anchorage Daily News readers comment on Facebook and elsewhere that they're sad to see whichever Blockbuster go.

The nostalgia factor is strong for these once ubiquitous stores. So, we asked Alaskans to share their Blockbuster memories. These are some of the responses we got (edited for length and grammar):


"My ex-husband and I frequented a Blockbuster on Northern Lights. What I remember most vividly is that we rarely agreed on a movie. Eventually, we'd choose something that both of us were lukewarm about.

"My best memory is the time he checked out a favorite of mine, 'Metropolis,' with a rock score by Giorgio Morodor. It's the most fun you can have without being really stoned. Anyway, he pretended he lost it and then paid for it and wrapped it up for me for Christmas! Even though I'm about to give all my VHS tapes away, I'm keeping that one as a souvenir of the good parts of our marriage."


– Georgeie Reynolds, Portland, Oregon


“My dad would take me every Friday to the (DeBarr) Blockbuster. We always stopped at Carrs to pick up SpaghettiOs first, before going to rent ‘Jem and the Holograms’ episodes and Disney movies. He always took me into Baskin-Robbins to get sherbet before we went home. Some of my very favorite memories with him were those little Blockbuster trips.”

— Tessa Moore, Lawton, Oklahoma

'Zombie Strippers'

"I had been dating Greg for a couple months, when we had our first Valentine's together. … We decided to go to Blockbuster in Eagle River to see if there were any movies we'd like to see. … We began just wandering the aisles pointing out movies we liked, still not finding anything.

"Until we saw something that just looked so ridiculous we knew we had to rent it. So off we went with 'Zombie Strippers.' The movie was so terrible, but made for a lasting memory. The following year, we were still dating, and Greg surprised me with renting that same awful movie — from the same Blockbuster. This continued each year, and for the fourth year (we had now been married for about 6 months) I decided we should just buy the movie. … Blockbuster definitely gave us a lasting fun memory of our first few years together."

— Elli Morris, Eagle River

'A parenting partner'

"My late wife Carol died in 2002, leaving me a kindergartner, a first-grader and a fifth-grader. Our family therapy was to load up the minivan after school on Friday, stop at Midtown or Huffman Blockbuster, and go to our cabin in Girdwood.

"Three kids each picked a video, and I was stingy on candy but not on popcorn. Friday lines were atrocious and getting the first-run DVDs we wanted was sometimes a crap shoot, but I look back at my Blockbusters as a parenting partner that helped us hang together as a family.

"It was hard sometimes to inject something educational in the mix but I taught my kids about the Cold War by sneaking 'Fail Safe' and 'Dr. Strangelove' into the mix and of course 'Casablanca' for WWII."

— Mead Treadwell, Anchorage

'What's next?'

"Soon after graduating college I landed my first 'real' job managing a campaign for a local candidate. The race went better than you would expect given that this dream team was composed of a first-time candidate and a 21-year-old campaign manager with no knowledge and less experience, and … we ultimately lost the election.

"Losing an election in the winter in Alaska isn't ideal, and I spent the next few weeks on pause, pondering my career and my life. … I ventured out of the house every so often to visit — where else? — the Blockbuster on Northern Lights Boulevard to rent and return season after season of 'The West Wing' as I pondered President Bartlet's often-posed question: 'What's next?' … I burned through anywhere from one to 12 episodes per day.

"When that question — 'what's next?' — could no longer be answered by feeding another DVD into the player I picked up myself and my resume and found out what was next on my own.

"Blockbuster not only provided me with the perfect means of coping with the loss of my first and only campaign, but ensured I had to actually get up and return to the world at least every few days to find out what, in fact, happened next. Blockbuster was an important ingredient in forcing me to answer 'what's next?' for myself, instead of simply allowing me to answer another question, this one much easier but much less encouraging: 'Are you still watching?'"


— Mara Hill, Anchorage

[Pricey internet and nostalgia keep Alaska video stores alive]


"Back in the early 2000s, I was at the Fairbanks Blockbuster next to the Food Factory when my younger sister and I convinced my mom that the 'unrated' version of 'Old School' meant it was 'unrated' in the same way you would classify a nature documentary.

"We got home, pleased with ourselves, where my dad immediately busted us when he asked our mom why she had rented a film for the kids (14 and 10) that was so unsuitable for children. Needless to say, we didn't get to watch it. However, I am pretty sure he ended up watching the movie."

— Aileen Cole, Anchorage

'We'd just hang around'

"(My sister and I) would head on down to Blockbuster (on DeBarr Road) on Friday nights, hopefully to rent the latest new release. If it wasn't in stock, we'd just hang around the store.


"As soon as we'd see someone walk up to the drop slot outside, we'd ask the employees to check the returned movie, hoping it was the one we were looking for. If it would get late without any luck, we would settle for an 'oldie but goodie': 'Dazed and Confused,' 'Empire Records,' 'The Breakfast Club,' or maybe 'Pretty in Pink.' We'd never leave empty-handed. We'd also be sure to grab a few bags of our favorite candy, Sour Patch Kids. I still can't go to the movies without a bag of them."

— Joseph Lamebull, Portland, Oregon

Sibling memories

"My sister and I went to the Kenai Blockbuster for years. We would rent entire seasons of shows, go back again that night and rent more. The employees knew us by name. I was so sad when my wallet was stolen and I lost the Blockbuster member card I've had for over 10 years. It is truly one of the best memories my sister and I have from our childhood."

— Lydia Power, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts

'Do you date?'

"I used to live on Klondike Avenue on the east side. I was a frequent user of the Blockbuster on DeBarr. … One late mid-winter afternoon I got into my car to return some videos to Blockbuster. It was pitch black, no moon and about 20 below.

"I backed out of my driveway. Standing in the middle of Klondike was a woman in a parka. I asked her where she was going and she said 'Carrs on DeBarr.' so I offered her a ride. We got as far as Wonder Park (Elementary) School and she asked me 'Do you date?' I was single at the time and sort of shocked by the question so I stammered out 'Yes, sometimes…' And she said 'Do you want a date NOW?' I had picked up a prostitute.

"So I explained to her that my gallant intentions aimed at keeping her free from hypothermia had been misinterpreted. I don't remember the movie I rented at Blockbuster that night but I will always remember the story. I may have exceeded the speed limit as I drove to the store."

— Wayne Maloney, Alexandria, Virginia

Art of compromise

"When I first moved to Alaska in May of 2007, my now-wife was the first person I met. We had an almost daily ritual. In the evening we'd leave our place(s) in the College Gate/Lake Otis Neighborhood. We'd go to Blockbuster on Northern Lights, sometimes as a couple (or) with friends and pick the night's movie.


"We didn't have cable at the time. There were nights where she and I would learn the art of compromise trying to select one or two movies out of a thousand. You learn a lot about a person browsing movie titles. …  It is sad to see places that we spent a lot of time as a young couple slowly become victims of changing times."

— Miles Brookes, Juneau

'Didn't last long'

"We had a great, local video store here in Kodiak called Cross Fox Video. Robert worked there, and knew all about movies. He was really into them. He could make recommendations and provide in-depth conversation about actors, writers, screenplays, and everything else a passionate movie aficionado would be into.

"Cross Fox didn't last long when Blockbuster showed up with their teenage workforce and aisles full of candy and energy drinks. But, then again, Blockbuster didn't last long either, as the whole industry moved towards streaming and online media options."

— Mike Mannelin, Kodiak

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.