Last August, Governor John Hickenlooper joined Blockbuster President Michael Kelly and other dignitaries to celebrate the relocation of the video firm's headquarters to Douglas County -- a move that came with the company's pledge to bring 150 jobs to Colorado over the next five years. (See photos from that event below.) Unfortunately, the latest news from Blockbuster, a subsidiary of locally based Dish Network, represents the opposite side of that coin.
Dish spokesman John Hall confirms that 300 Blockbuster stores nationwide will close soon, and while he can't yet say if any of them will be in Colorado, he doesn't rule out the possibility, either.
"The stores have not been announced," Hall notes. "The closures will be taking place in the coming weeks, but I don't have a hard date when we will have a list of the stores." Last year, Dish closed about 500 Blockbusters, including plenty in Colorado; the one a block from my house, in unincorporated Jefferson County, is now a dentist's office. But 26 remain in the state at this point, with a dozen in the Denver metro area according to the online Blockbuster store locator, including outlets at Colfax and Ogden, Havana and Mississippi, Alameda and Virginia, Wadsworth and Crestline and a number of prime spots. That's some valuable -- and presumably expensive -- real estate. After the latest downsizing, Hall says about 500 Blockbuster stores will remain in the U.S. That represents a massive shrinkage from when Dish bought the company out of bankruptcy in April 2011 -- 1,700 stores were open then, according to the Denver Business Journal. The DBJ adds that Blockbuster had 9,100 stores at its peak. That means more than 94 percent of them have closed.
Continue for more about the latest Blockbuster store closures. Even so, Hall insists that Dish hasn't given up on the brick-and-mortar model for Blockbuster. "The strategy from the beginning has been to evaluate stores on a case-by-case basis as far as their overall performance, and we'll continue to do that," he says. "The goal of the business is obviously to remain profitable or to at least break even. That's the goal moving forward."
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Now, of course, there are plenty of other video delivery methods than driving to a shop and renting a physical disc that must be returned -- not just Netflix, but various online and Video On Demand services as well. But Hall says "we still see value in the Blockbuster brand. We think we can look for a multitude of ways to deliver on the brand promise to consumers. Those options could include stores, by mail or other options that bring Blockbuster's services to our customers.
"We've said all along this process would be taking place," Hall adds. "We've seen it happen over the past year, and we'll continue to be evaluating stores and making sure they're operating at a profitable level."
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And if they're not, the stores will be shuttered, taking employment opportunities with them. Estimated job losses associated with the 300 forthcoming store closures: 3,000.
Which won't be offset by that promised 150.
More from our Media archive: "Governor Hickenlooper cuts the ribbon for Blockbuster's new Colorado headquarters."