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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 5:19 am | Fair 50º


Santa Barbara Blockbuster Store Prepares for Closing Sale

The location at 101 N. Milpas St. is set to shut for good on Jan. 17, with the liquidation of inventory to begin Thursday

Loyal customers returning rented DVDs to the Blockbuster drop box Monday were greeted with locked doors and closure signs, indicating that the last local retail store will soon shutter for good.

Inside the Santa Barbara location at 101 N. Milpas St., employees prepared inventory and the space for a final liquidation sale set to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday.

“Some people still haven’t heard,” said Mike, a store manager who told Noozhawk he didn’t want to give his last name for fear of somehow affecting his upcoming unemployment benefits.

Eight local employees — along with the rest of the world — learned last week that the 300 remaining retail Blockbuster locations across the country will all close by early January.

The Santa Barbara location, the only one left in Santa Barbara County, is tentatively set to close Jan. 17 or sooner, depending on how quickly inventory disappears, according to the manager.

“Everything — even if it’s nailed down — will be for sale,” he said. “I’m assuming that we’ll be done a couple days before that.”

The last day for rentals was Saturday, when doors were closed in anticipation of Thursday's sale.

Colorado-based DISH Network Corp., which owns the subsidiary Blockbuster LLC, announced the decision to close all retail locations and distribution centers last Wednesday, along with an end to its Blockbuster By Mail service in December.

Blockbuster has been working to get rid of its U.S. and international assets over the past 18 months, since DISH plans to focus on bringing the Blockbuster @Home service — a streaming service similar to Netflix — to DISH customers.

“This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” DISH CEO Joseph Clayton said in a statement. “Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.”

About 50 Blockbuster stores owned by franchisees will not be affected by the closures, although none of those are in California, according to John Hall, a Blockbuster spokesman.

The Milpas location has been open since 1995, surviving the last round of Blockbuster closures about two years ago that left in its wake empty locations on upper State Street and in Goleta, Carpinteria and Buellton.

A portion of the final sales will go directly to the affected employees, who were informed of the closure via email and only learned late last week how corporate would handle the closing process.

“It is what it is,” the manager said, noting that the location has done well in the past. “It’s unfortunate. We’re really not getting as much (business) as we used to.

“Come support your local Blockbuster employees.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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