Blockbuster Video goes dark at Cross Country Plaza in Columbus

Schomburg Road location only remaining store in the city

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comMay 13, 2013 

And then there was one.

Blockbuster Video has turned the lights out at its Cross Country Plaza store.

Its space at 3201 Macon Road was empty Monday, with its prominent blue sign stripped from the facade and no trace of it on the shopping center’s main marquee.

Leo Wiener, a partner in Glenwood Development, the shopping center's owner, said Tuesday his company had been expecting the video chain to vacate the premises at some point, and is marketing the space as one of its best storefronts in Cross Country. The vacated space is positioned at a corner of the shopping center between Chuck E. Cheese's and a Great Clips hair salon.

"We have been in discussions with a few tenants over the past few months, but at this point, nothing solid to report on," Wiener said via email.

Blockbuster, which has been in a financial spiral in recent years, now has only one location in Columbus, the store at 7600 Schomburg Road. An employee answering the phone there simply said staffers hope it doesn’t close its doors, too.

The video chain had been at Cross Country at least two decades, with Blockbuster buying out various other brands in the market through the years. That included two Movie Gallery outlets at 4231 Macon Road and 5300 Sidney Simons Blvd. in 1992.

Blockbuster’s business has been sliding over the past decade as Netflix and Redbox movie rental kiosks took hold of the market, offering cheaper fees. The chain has been shutting stores rapidly, with an online check Monday finding only one store each in the major metro cities of Atlanta and in Birmingham, Ala.

Englewood, Colo.-based Dish Network Corp. bought the chain for $234 million two years ago and has continued to cut its brick-and-mortar presence while promoting a Blockbuster@Home service that blends entertainment offerings via the Internet, mail and its remaining stores.

Blockbuster did bring in $180 million in revenue and $1 million in operating income in the first quarter of this year, according to a May 9 Dish filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. But that’s down from $334 million in revenue and $14 million in operating income in the same quarter of 2012.

Dish attributed much of the latest financial decline to store closures in the United Kingdom. But it also said it closed about 150 locations in the U.S. in the first quarter and expects to shutter 150 more in the current April-June quarter. That would leave it with about 500 stores in the U.S.

But that’s likely not the end of it, said Dish: “We continue to evaluate the impact of certain factors, including, among other things, competitive pressures, the ability of significantly fewer Blockbuster domestic retail stores to continue to support corporate administrative costs, and other issues impacting the store-level financial performance of our Blockbuster domestic retail stores. These factors, or other reasons, could lead us to close additional Blockbuster domestic retail stores.”

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