The Blockbuster in Porter Square is shutting down, with much of the remaining stock of DVDs selling for $3.49. Its final day in business is to be Aug. 9, company spokesman Randy Hargrove said, but from the looks of it all that will remain by then is 27 copies of “Righteous Kill” and nine of “Saw IV.”
(There was still some worthy stock on hand today, including documentaries such as “Capturing the Friedmans” and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” some foreign stuff and probably about 30 copies of “Righteous Kill.” And 40 of “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.”)
A worker at the store blamed the shutdown on a Porter Square Galleria rent increase of $5,000 a year, to $23,000.
A worker at the Galleria’s longtime management company, KS Partners LLC, declined to comment today and said the manager who could comment was on vacation.
Explaining the shutdown, Hargrove noted that Blockbuster’s lease was up, and there were several factors to consider in renewing it.
“I don’t know the specifics of the discussion with the landlord,” he said. “We weren’t able to reach agreement.”
While he couldn’t say if low sales contributed to the closing, even with the Porter Square site gone “We’ve got a bunch of stores in Middlesex County” — 23, including at Alewife and in Central Square.
“With two other stores so close, we think we can still serve the customer,” he said. The company also rents movies through the mail, like the popular Netflix service, and for immediate watching online.
The DVD retail store model is under attack from not just Netflix, but the grocery store rental kiosks called Redbox and from Blockbuster’s own rental alternatives. The stock tickers make the story clear: Blockbuster ended Thursday at 77 cents per share, down $2 from a year ago but up almost 15 percent from Wednesday, while Netflix closed at $43.61 per share, up from $30.53 a year ago and a little over 2 percent from the previous day. (Redbox is privately held, but by all reports is doing great business.)
In March, Blockbuster suffered a huge drop in share price on rumors of bankruptcy, and analyst Kim Noland wrote that “although Blockbuster had done a decent job of containing costs and bolstering liquidity … the company’s recent quarter was much worse than we expected.”
“It’s difficult to predict a possible turnaround for the slumping in-store rental business,” Noland wrote.
All workers at the Blockbuster in Porter Square will be moved to other nearby stores, according to one of those workers and Hargrove.