Do you ever find yourself missing the aesthetics of Blockbuster, the iconic video rental chain dealt a death blow by Netflix about a decade ago? Lots of children of the 1990s harbor fond memories of prowling the aisles and begging their parents to shell out for the overpriced candy hawked at the register. Most of Blockbuster’s 9,000-plus locations shuttered permanently six years ago. But one lonely video rental store in Bend, Oregon, soldiers on. And as a token of gratitude to the community that’s kept it in business this long, Airbnb is renting out the world's last Blockbuster to local residents for a ‘90s-themed sleepover.
"In appreciation for all that the local community has recently done to support the last-of-its-kind during these uncertain times, this end of summer sleepover will offer movie lovers in Deschutes County the chance for a 90s-themed stay to relive the bygone Friday night tradition just as we remember it," read a press release. Airbnb tricked out the store with replica ‘90s living room furnishings including a sleeper sofa, bean bag chair, and Sony VHS player. Reservations for the nights of September 18, 19, or 20 open to Oregon locals on August 17 and cost just $4 — a penny more than the price of a video rental.
As far as brand partnerships go, this Blockbuster and Airbnb collaboration is delightful. Early on Tuesday, Blockbuster stoked online intrigue by tweeting for the first time in six years. (The brand’s last social media post in January 2014 heralded the closure of all but a few of its franchise locations.) “Just checking in,” read Blockbuster’s brief missive, accompanied by a waving emoji hand. What did it mean? The nostalgic rebirth of a beloved but outdated business? Jokes about unreturned VHS tapes abounded on Twitter for a few hours.
Turns out, Blockbuster’s tweet was merely publicity for the Airbnb experience in Bend, Oregon. It’d be a little disappointing if the story of the very last Blockbuster weren’t so darn heartwarming. Branded stunts are usually the worst. Have you been following Baby Nut’s cursed transformation this week into a young adult peanut? Planters needs to throw in the towel, because nobody has patience for its confounding marketing during a pandemic, thank you very much.