Let's All Move To Alaska

They still have Blockbuster there.

Image: hector e. balcazar

The stores’ survival has depended on aggressive real estate deals with landlords willing to offer short-term leases and reduced rent. It has required running the business “a lot differently” than Blockbuster ever did, avoiding what Payne calls “a contentious culture over late fees.” Unlike the old Blockbuster, Payne’s version never sends out invoices to customers for late fees; they are simply collected whenever they come into the store. But he has also refused to eliminate late fees entirely like Blockbuster did, a decision Payne calls the “final nail in the coffin.”

Still, a great deal of the business’s endurance has come from the core customer base in Alaska, primarily made up of older people. Alaska ranks high in disposable income among the states, due to good-paying jobs, exceptionally low taxes and payments from reinvested oil savings. Moreover, Internet service is substantially more expensive than in most states, since most data packages are not unlimited. Heavy Netflix streamers could end up paying hundreds of dollars per month in Internet bills, Payne said.

Blockbuster has survived in the most curious of places – Alaska

The Washington Post spoke to Alan Payne, one of the last Blockbuster franchisees, and he he manages to make Alaska sound pretty appealing. The internet is still too expensive for Netflix, and the end of the week still means something. According to Payne, “more than half of Blockbuster’s revenue is generated during a six-hour period on Friday nights.” Doesn’t that sound magical? Remember metered internet connections, late fees, and checkout candy? Would you refresh Twitter as much if you had to pay for each pull?Who needs all those hours of light from the sun if you have the warm, fluorescent glow of the Blockbuster aisles, filled with peeling plastic-covered boxes of all the movies you currently have to pay to rent on iTunes anyway because Netflix’s streaming selection sucks so much? Just think of how much time we’d have for all the right things.