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Blockbuster hits eject button
Rental stores across the country, including Covingtons, closing
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Covington’s Blockbuster store is closing­ — along with all 300 or so corporately-owned stores across the country — after a long run that left it as one of the few remaining brick-and-mortar locations in the state.

The store will remain open for normal operations, including rental of movies and games, through Saturday and then close for a week of reorganization before opening in full-sale mode next Friday, Nov. 15, according to customers who spoke with the store’s employees. The amounts of discounts were not being released.

All Blockbuster stores are expected to close by early January, according to a press release from Blockbuster’s parent company, DISH Network. No specific closing date was given for the Covington store, but a corporate spokesperson confirmed that all inventory will be sold.

The spokesperson said stores generally have fewer than 10 employees.

Covington resident Kirstie Boehm visited the store Thursday to see if she could get any early deals; the store has a current 25 percent off sale that is unrelated to the impending closing.

Boehm said she used to go to Blockbuster once a week, a common consumer experience during Blockbuster’s heyday as king of the movie rental industry.

“We went all the time. The kids loved movies,” Boehm said.

As the children grew up and other technologies came along, Boehm stopped coming. These days, she said, her children use Redbox to rent movies.

At Blockbuster, Boehm got some deals even before the big selloff, buying 14 movies for $60.

On The News’ Facebook page, Terri Kimble Fullerton said she generally uses Redbox but just went to Blockbuster recently.

“I just rented a movie from Blockbuster I couldn’t find in (Redbox) and was pleasantly surprised at the 5-day, 99-cent rental,” Fullerton said. “So much for that new (Blockbuster) card, I guess!”

The spokesperson didn’t know how many Blockbuster stores still exist in Georgia, but a search of the company’s website only pulled up the Covington location and one in Norcross. The Covington building is not owned by Blockbuster, but is owned by the same company that owns the Ingles and other stores in the shopping center (Kmart separately owns its building), according to the Newton County Tax Assessor's website.

Blockbuster is also closing its distribution centers and its mail DVD distribution service, which wasn’t able to compete with Netflix. However, DISH said it will continue to use the Blockbuster brand name and its library of movie and TV titles and will continue to offer online streaming and on-demand services.

Approximately 50 franchise Blockbuster stores will remain open around the country, but none are in Georgia, the spokesperson said.

The shift to online, digital distribution of movies and TV shows has been a boon for Netflix, which now boasts 31 million subscribers to its Internet video service and another 7.1 million DVD-by-mail customers. The company’s success has minted Netflix with a market value of $20 billion.

Hurt by the shifting market, Blockbuster closed thousands of its stores before landing in bankruptcy court three years ago. Dish Network bought Blockbuster’s remnants for about $234 million in 2011 and then tried to mount a challenge to Netflix; however, the store closings continued when profits never materialized.

The chain’s near extinction serves as another stark reminder of how quickly technology can reshape industries.

Just a decade ago, Blockbuster reigned as one of the country’s most ubiquitous retailers, with 9,100 stores in the U.S.

Blockbuster suffered an operating loss of $35 million on revenue of $1.1 billion last year and posted an operating loss of $4 million during the first half of this year, according to regulatory filings.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.