Over the last decade in the United States, Blockbuster became a bit of a joke. Plenty made fun of its antiquated business practices (while also waxing nostalgic about how soothing it can be to browse a store while deciding on what to rent), its slow adoption of new distribution trends, and even celebrated when the once mighty video rental pioneer closed all of its remaining stores in the U.S. in 2013.
Funny the difference a few hundred miles and a border can make, though, because Blockbuster is apparently still thriving in Mexico. Not only that, but the company that bought Blockbuster (Grupo Elektra), has plenty of plans to double down and even expand on the stores' services.
Bloomberg has the news about Elektra's plans for the future of Blockbuster, and they come with some rather interesting statistics. For starters, Blockbuster Mexico actually did more business in 2013 than 2012. Apparently Blockbuster isn't seen as a tarnished brand down south, with customers still seeing it as a viable way to rent movies and games for reasonable prices. On top of that, only 31% of Mexican households have Internet service, so streaming services aren't dominating down there like they are in the United States. Plus, Redbox does not operate in Mexico, so there's no competition there, either.
The numbers aren't all rosey, though. Bloomberg also reports that nine out of 10 movies bought in Mexico are bootleg DVDs, which is a rather disturbing statistic. But, further statistics show that Blockbuster members actually represent a higher end class of consumers. They're more likely to spend more money, and pay off payment plans faster, and because of that Elektra is starting to sell more than just movies at its Blockbuster locations. They're also offering electronics for sale and online banking services, and so far it's paying off.
Obviously this doesn't really show that Dish Network was foolish to close Blockbuster stores in the U.S., but it is interesting to see how the brand has endured well in one of its neighboring countries. Will that continue once things like Redbox and Netflix Watch Instantly move into the country? Probably not, though it does seem like Elektra is learning from video rental's history in the U.S. and adapting before the same fate hits it.
So, if you live in the U.S. and ever find yourself with an irrepressible craving to wander a Blockbuster and rent something physical, just hop on a flight to Mexico. They're still around, and it seems like they will be for the foreseeable future... however, you may not want to do that, because apparently Blockbuster is haunted down there. (This is the first result if you search YouTube for Blockbuster Mexico).
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