Blockbuster’s crowning days

Photo by: Will Gentry

 

Even before the advent of McDonalds, Starbucks and Sonic, the corner of Memorial and Bryant was a booming place. In the late 1980s, the corner contained a restaurant, grocery store and gas station for a steady flow of customers.

Oklahoma Christian Investment Corporation, a subsidiary corporation dedicated to buying and developing real estate to use as endowment for Oklahoma Christian University, was established in 1973. Included in this corporation land is Heritage Village, Heritage Plaza and the shopping center, which Oklahoma Christian has owned since the ‘80s.

Around 1990, Moonlight Video — a mom & pop video store — opened in the shopping center.

“In the late ‘90s it was a hoppin’ place,” Lynda Loucks, an Edmond resident and long-time customer, said. “Everyone rented videos from there. I’ve rented movies from there for 20 years.”

The family-operated store was in businesses for over a decade before selling out to Blockbuster. Blockbuster, a rental service for movies and video games, moved into the corner shop in the early 2000s.

However, video stores are on the decline, while on-demand Internet streaming media is on the rise.

With the increasing popularity of instant video rentals like Netflix and Redbox, video stores are hitting a financial pitfall. Dish Network Corp., who bought out the bankrupt  Blockbuster in 2011, announced that it would close 300 underperforming stores, resulting in the loss of about 3,000 employees.

This will only leave about 500 Blockbuster stores open nation-wide.

Among those closing is the Blockbuster on the southeast corner of Bryant and Memorial, located in Oklahoma Christian’s shopping center.

“We hate to see a company like Blockbuster have financial troubles and have to start cutting back,” Kinney Bryant, Executive Director of University Services, said.

To many, online video selection and movies delivered directly to the TV or computer is a welcome time-saver. However, some who don’t enjoy online movies and technology miss the simplicity of rental stores.

“I’m really old school,” Loucks said. “I like going in and picking out a movie. That’s half the fun, going into the movie rental store and perusing the aisles and looking for an old classic that you like or a new release.

Taylor Murphy, a junior at Oklahoma Christian, would take a late-night run to Blockbuster if he needed a movie.

“I would rather go to Blockbuster,” Murphy, who has an unlimited Blockbuster pass, said. “They do come out a lot sooner there. With a pass, it’s a lot easier than Redbox.”

Views like that may be a bit nostalgic, however, and movie rental closings might be inevitable.

“We’ve expected this for quite a while,” said Bryant. “We’ve known this day was going to come, because they’ve asked for rent reductions over the past because of tough times.”

The initial reaction to hearing that a store is vacating the spot is curiosity to what will take its place. The store will close in April.

“I would love to have another video store there,” Loucks said. “Ideally, I still like going in and renting movies. I think it’s great when you have a big selection of older movies and newer movies.”

Loucks may just have her wish.

“We will try to find another tenant,” Bryant said. “In fact, another tenant has already contacted us — another video company.”

The strip is also losing the optometrist, and the Memorial Road Pet Hospital may be purchasing other land. With these closings, rumors have surfaced that Oklahoma Christian will sell the whole piece, resulting in the closing of the school-affiliated art gallery.

“We’ve always been open to someone coming in and buying the whole property,” Bryant said. “Depending on who bought it and what they bought it for, we might have to find a new space on campus for the gallery.”

As of yet, however, nothing of the sort is in process.

“In summer with my kids, we were renting movies all summer long, every other day,” said Loucks. “It felt like a cool community space. It’s unfortunate that we’re losing that kind of community. I would run into friends there. It’s more to me then just renting movies.”

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