People Who Worked At Blockbuster Share What The Final Days Before It Closed Were Like
There was nothing quite like browsing through your local Blockbuster... nothing quite like browsing through any local video store, really. Thanks to Redditor _PM_ME_UR_TIDDIES, we now know the answer to this age old question: "Redditors who worked at Blockbuster as the company was going under, what was it like working at your store during those final days?"
"We had a huge..."
We had a huge liquidation sale, and we just stopped caring since there was no longer video renting to customers, just selling remaining videos and games. I remember when I was first hired, our district manager said "Video stores will be obsolete by 2010, internet video watching will be the future." He was right.
"The liquidation sale..."
The liquidation sale at my local Blockbuster is how I got a copy of LA Noire for only $20, not even 7 months after the game came out. They let me mix and match the disks (360 version is 3 disks) between their copies so I could have the ones with the least amount of scratches on them
Honestly... we kind of had a blast. Nobody gave a crap anymore. By corporate policy, we were only allowed to put 'PG' and below movies on the in-store television system... but we watched Jurassic Park 24/7 and now I can pretty much quote that whole movie. We wrote funny signs for the hardware (e.g. "Large-size filing cabinet - makes a great stocking stuffer!") and made a special display for our very last bag of Twizzlers. And on the last day we threw stuff at the big Blockbuster sign in the store and made a huge hole in it. Maybe I'm looking at it with rose-colored glasses because it's been 10+ years but for some reason I remember it fondly.
It sucked. It sucked hard. And it started sucking long before we knew for sure that it was the end (which for my store came in a mandatory meeting just a few days before Christmas).
We stopped taking our own gift cards. Had to redirect the customer to corporate because in store, they had no value at all.
I worked there for 8 years. My team was exceptionally close, and most of us had been together that whole time. On the night that we transferred all the rental inventory over into sale items, it was more of a going away party that lasted all night. We sang, and laughed, but it was also very sad.
My love of working for BBV wasn't necessarily because of the job itself, and it definitely wasn't because of the company. It was my coworkers, and (most of) our regular customers. I still miss them all nearly that many years later.
"I was an early casualty..."Giphy
I was an early casualty, our district started setting ridiculously high sales goals and pushing up selling merch. (I guess someone up the ranks was optimistic?) But my particular store was located in a lower income, largely rural area, and the bulk of our customers were people who had the monthly unlimited pass and would just trade out their movies every couple of days. Naturally we did not hit goals and our district manager fired me as "an example", as I was the lowest assistant manager on the totem pole.
"It was fun..."
It was fun and rough at the same time. Stores closing, combining with other local stores, team members being relocated or let go as stores were shut. It was such a fun job, everyday was work of course but, a retail form of the entertainment business. We had regulars that would come in often, kids that were excited to come in, etc. Something about families picking out games and movies together, not just selecting on a screen, made it kind of special I think. Buying candy, buying used movies, gift ideas for holidays and such. I will always miss being there.
I left before the literal final days, but worked for a few years just prior to them. I actually started in 2010, and it was already over. The environment was weird. Our SM was obliged to overperform a sense of "everything's fine" that literally no one believed. No one else cared even a little at all. I mean, we did the job, but the stakes always felt non existent when it came to things like making candy sales or getting game preorders and stuff.
Customers were all pretty great, though, and anyone who was an ahole...well we just felt no obligation to cater to anyone so there was a lot less "customer is always right" and a lot more "I mean you're welcome to leave if you're going to talk to us like that."
Honestly it was a wild first job experience. Not quite like anywhere else I've ever been.
"We took the hundreds..."
We took the hundreds of AOL free trial CDs that we had and every night after we closed we would take them out of the packages and frisbeed them onto the roof of the building.
So many discs. Those little buggers are probably still up there, blinding low flying planes.
"Worked at one..."
Worked at one as the company spiraled the drain and was fired before the stores in our area started to shut down.
The first six months - year that I was there was awesome. We were a franchise location so things like upselling and add ons weren't really emphasized.
Then we sold out to the Blockbuster company because the guy who owned our store wanted to get out while the getting was good.
Basically all of our policies changed overnight. We went from having our goal being, ya know, finding the right movie to rent to someone to getting penalized if they left with only a movie.
There's an episode of King of the Hill where Hank spends a month talking people up about finding the right grill for them and then like Bobbie is hired to be a propane tank wiper but he sells people the grills they don't need and at the end of the month, Hank has to swoop in to sell people the stuff they actually need.
I was like Hank Hill. I knew movies and knew most of our regulars well enough to know who needed what so basically every day I wasn't in the guys who were good at sales were getting them what they didn't need and I would have to clean up the mess the next day.
People always say that Netflix killed Blockbuster but honestly what happened was Blockbuster panicked and then got greedy and shot themselves in the foot. Instead of providing decent service to people they decided that the best thing to do was try to make as much money as quickly as possible.
"When I was first hired..."Giphy
When I was first hired, we went from 10 employees:
- Store manager, assistant manager, 3 shift managers, 5 CSRs.
- Store manager, assistant manager, 3 shift managers.
It was weird the way corporate tried to make us cut costs. If a store is telling you to reuse old garbage bags, you know they're in a bad place.
There were days where only 2 employees ran the whole store. One of the lead managers came in to open, and a 2nd manager came in to help close in the evening.
We weren't allowed to give any refunds for any reason. If the customer didn't want an item after it was rung up, we weren't allowed to cancel the transaction.
If the register was under for some reason, the store manager made the closer pay the rest and said they would refund them later. Often times they didn't.
They still made us push the rewards program up until the end. But instead of rewarding us for selling rewards cards, we would be given a write-up or fired if we didn't sell any in a month.
It kinda got a bit scary at the end.
Breaking up is hard to do.
And when you get the law involved, it's even worse. But sometimes people don't need the law's help to make things overcomplicated, they just have a grand ole time making that happen themselves.
People on the front lines of human cruelty include divorce lawyers. These are their stories.