Best known for its bevy of microbreweries and for being one of Pacific Northwest’s premier hubs for a dizzying number of outdoor recreation activities, the city of Bend in Central Oregon is also notable for being home to a beloved and once-ubiquitous staple of American life that can’t be found anywhere else in the entire world.
As of March 2019, when a lonely outpost in Australia closed its doors for good, the Bend location of Blockbuster became the last surviving video rental store of its marquee-carrying kind. (Two remaining Blockbusters in Alaska were also hanging on for a good while but have since closed). Bend’s Blockbuster has been in operation since 1992 and according to a 2019 New York Times profile, by all accounts, is doing quite well despite the loss of roughly 8,999 other global Blockbuster locations since 2004. Now during a troubled time when many are seeking comfort through nostalgia of all stripes, the world’s only Blockbuster video store is opening its doors—on three nights only—for 90s-themed Airbnb sleepovers.
The summer’s end slumber parties will be held in a plushly carpeted basement rec room-esque space straight out of 1992 that has been recreated in the middle of the store. The seemingly preserved in ember set-up comes complete with a pull-out sofa bed and some questionable yet period-appropriate décor. (The Memphis Group-y linens and throw pillows pictured in the listing’s promotional photography are a nice touch) An air mattress will also be provided, although a full bath experience will have to wait until the next morning after check-out.
While breakfast is included, it’s unclear if there is a microwave on-site for use, which seems kind of crucial.
But here’s the catch: The bookings—available on the nights of September 18, 19, and 20—are only available to residents of Deschutes County, and the no-more-than-four guests who do score a spot on a certain night must come from the same household to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Prior to the sleepovers, the store will be cleaned and prepared per CDC guidelines and meet Airbnb’s advanced safety protocol during the pandemic. The cost to spend the night in the world’s last remaining Blockbuster is just a penny—plus the standard $3.99 video rental charge along with taxes and fees. The three single-night bookings will become available on August 17 at 1 p.m. PST and will likely go faster than a fresh, double-cassette copy of Titanic.
And for those wondering, the store itself is not architecturally significant—its storefront is of the standard suburban strip mall variety, nestled in a small shopping plaza off a major highway next to a Papa Murphy’s.
Sandi Harding, the store’s manager since 2004 when the chain was at its peak, will serve as host and hand off the keys before each sleepover. (Harding asks for guests to wear facial coverings and observe social distancing during this transactional encounter.) And per a media release, Airbnb, which has instituted deep cuts during the coronavirus crisis, will make a donation to the Humane Society of Central Oregon to “celebrate the last Blockbuster in the world and its community.”
The Clinton-era flashback-inducing sleepover arrangement will remain in place and viewable to regular customers for a limited time after the three overnight stays conclude.